The Engineering Geological Challenges of the ENK Acoje Nickel Mine Expansion Project, Zambales, Philippines

Graeme Jardine, Remika Gupana

Gutteridge, Haskins and Davey Pty Ltd, Manila


The lack of appropriate engineering geological studies prior to infrastructure design and construction poses a significant risk to the structural integrity of facilities. This study aims to provide an overview of the significance and possible challenges that might be faced through the course of the engineering geological investigations for mine infrastructure.

This paper presents the results and challenges encountered during the engineering geological and geotechnical investigations that have been carried out during the bankable feasibility study at ENK’s Acoje Mines in Sta. Cruz, Zambales (2011-2012). Potential locations of the tailings storage facilities, water dams and a process plant were investigated.

This study is based on subsurface field investigation techniques, walkover surveys, geological mapping, geophysical MASW surveys, and construction material quarry site visits. Laboratory testing was carried out on the soil and rock samples obtained from the field investigations.

The engineering geological issues and associated related geohazards faced in this project site included definition of appropriate dam & structure foundations (in terms of bearing capacity & global stability), rockmass permeability (in terms of yield & avoidance of tailings contamination downstream), landsliding effects on infrastructure and dam catchments, potential earthquake-induced stability issues, and earthworks design (including dealing with reactive soils & resourcing appropriate volumes of construction materials).

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