One of the primary advantages of the SVOffice geotechnical software suite is that it allows consulting firms to develop new areas of business and revenue streams. This aspect of the software has been demonstrated by Golder Associates Africa. The Midrand office approached SoilVision Systems Ltd. about one and a half years ago with the desire to increase their numerical modeling capabilities. In particular, they wanted to model unsaturated flow which applies to many situations in the mining industry. They were interested in developing the following types of models:
- Cover design;
- Tailings water balance; and
- Flow through waste rock.
SoilVision Systems Ltd. worked with Golder to provide the initial training on the software as it applies to mining problems. The scientists at Golder were able to understand and make use of the software almost immediately. Over the past 1 - 1/2 years, Golder Africa has made use of the software weekly to develop what has become a successful new area of application in their business. The revenue generated from the unsaturated numerical modeling has far exceeded the initial costs of training and software.
Golder scientist Albert van Zyl has this to say about the software:
The software has provided a stable and productive environment by which we have been able to quickly apply unsaturated numerical models and further develop this area of our business.
The use of the software was further exemplified by its use on a project for a proposed tailings facility.
Short description of modeling project
A tailings storage facility (TSF) was designed and predictions were required of the seepage volumes that could be expected.
The seepage analysis modeling assumed that a flow-limiting layer with a low permeability is present under the proposed TSF. Such a layer will restrict flow to the subsurface and will cause the drains to capture a significant flow volume. Seepage volumes were predicted for the end of the operational phase. The effect of the proposed drains on the shape of the phreatic surface and the resulting seepage volume were evaluated.
Toe drains will restrict the phreatic surface to the area enclosed by the drains. Due to the size of the TSF, the drain beneath the pool was found not to change the shape of the phreatic surface; although it achieves a significant reduction in seepage into the subsurface.
The predicted seepage volumes (SoilVision output) were used in the impact assessment of the proposed TSF.
In other projects, Golder Associates Africa has used SoilVision for the source-term component of Source-Pathway-Receptor (S-P-R) modeling. S-P-R modeling is used to assess groundwater impacts in a probabilistic manner. The source-term component includes flow and geochemical modeling to provide seepage fluxes and leachate qualities for calculating the contaminant load from a source.