Success Stories

July 8, 2009

A project recently undertaken by students at University of Regina involved slope stability numerical modeling of potash tailings. The work involved two primary objectives:

  • Use slope stability software to determine the factor of safety of one side of the waste pile, and
  • Perform a sensitivity analysis to identify the safe terminal height and optimized volume that could fit within the current land restraints.

Saskatchewan is home to ten of the eleven potash production operations in Canada. Eight of the ten operations are conventional mines and two are solution mines. These mines result in the slurried deposition of Tailings Management Areas (TMA) which are subject to the natural processes of erosion and dissolution. Optimizing the lifespan of the TMAs is in the best interest of the mines and the purpose of the present study. Optimization of the present TMA can potentially avoid the problems with building a new TMA or lateral expansion of the current one.

It is the stability of the TMA which was the focus of the present slope stability project. The SVSlope™ software was selected for use in the present project due to the simplicity with which a sensitivity analysis can be performed. The software also implements comprehensive abilities to handle the unsaturated strength characteristics which can be a significant contributing factor to the calculation of the factor of safety (FOS). The comprehensive array of critical slip surface searching methods also simplified the determination of the true minimum FOS. The geometry for one of the models may be seen in Figure 1, above.

The standard method of slices equilibrium method was used in the present study to determine the FOS. The tailings pile was built in the SVSlope software as a series of lifts with benches between various lifts. The benches were designed to achieve an optimal FOS. An aerial view of the TMA may be seen here, in Figure 2.

The numerical modeling performed at the University of Regina was successful in i) determining a factor of safety of the critical side of the tailings pile, as well as ii) determining the optimal height of the pile. It was also determined in the SVSlope software that the stability of all tiers is not the same. The critical tier could be identified in the software and isolated for further examination. The sensitivity analysis was performed in the SVSlope software and allowed correlations between bench width / height and the factor of safety to be determined.

If this numerical modeling is of interest to you please contactThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view the University of Regina.


  • "I would like to thank you for all the support and the interest that I got from your team regarding this matter. I was able to successfully finish my project with the help of your technical support and managed to graduate achieving a high grade on the project I did. The software is extremely helpful and wasn't complicated and I look forward to future for more work and experience with your software. Thank you for your help and support."
  • "I have been using SoilVision's SVOFFICE™ software for research and training purposes for a number of years now. Myself and my colleagues have developed a number of training modules in this software, and have been using these to teach limit equilibrium and flow modeling to undergraduate students in the civil, environmental and mining engineering streams.

    In my opinion, this software is easy to learn and fun to use. The built-in tutorials are sufficient to get one started. With these tutorials, my students were generally able to complete their analyses with minimal involvement on my side.

    Based on my own experience, it takes around a month of full-time use to become reasonably competent with the software (provided that one understands the theoretical underpinnings of this type of analysis) - a short learning curve, compared to other products of similar complexity. The interface is intuitive enough for me to figure out things on my own, and I rarely had the need to ask for help.

    I don't generally like praising anything excessively, and I don't post particularly glowing reviews for anything. Having said that, I must mention the SoilVision support. At some point during my research, I was conducting a number of replication studies for my thesis. In that period, I must have emailed SoilVision's support anywhere from 2 to 5 times a day, with fairly complex (and sometimes very dumb) questions. I always got a response by the end of the day, and a resolution within a couple days at most. In a number of urgent cases (such as during a tutorial session with a classroom of students) I called them directly on the phone and, with senior product engineers involved, had the issue addressed in minutes."
  • "We have allowed our students the choice of using multiple Geotechnical software suites in our Dam Design and other Geotechnical courses. Our students consistently gravitate towards SoilVision software as being the most modern and user-friendly."

  • "I've been a geotechnical engineer for more than 25 years and SoilVision has the best tech support I have ever worked with. I truly appreciate their patience and help over the past year."

  • "Peter Brett Associates have been looking to update our existing slope stability software over the last year. After extensive research and trials, SVSLOPE® developed by SoilVision Systems Ltd. was found to meet all our existing and future design requirements. Its ease of use for modeling simple as well as complex geological and geometrical problems was a critical factor in our assessment as well as the incorporation of design to the Eurocodes. Their customer support has been faultless and their willingness to develop the software to meet our own specific design requirements is a most gratifying added bonus."

    "We love the fact that SVSLOPE® is part of an integrated suite of software and that, if required, 3D analysis can be undertaken. We would recommend this product to other geotechnical consulting firms."

  • "We have been using SVSLOPE® and SVFLUX™ for the past year and have found them to be efficient and productive engineering tools which have allowed us to offer our services in an efficient manner. The capability of automated increased discretization of the mesh is an absolute benefit to our modeling, reducing time and effort. We have found the software quick and easy for our engineers to train and utilize. I would recommend this product to other geotechnical consulting firms."

  • "The software is well documented and comes with number of useful example models. We were able to quickly begin creating models after a short review of the user interface and going through the available on-line webinars. The software offers solid benefits of less conservatism and the ability to model real geometry."

  • "This new software for stability analysis includes a number of state-of-the-art options for probabilistic slope stability analysis. This feature, combined with comprehensive deterministic analyses, will provide new opportunities to build confidence in the results of a site-specific analysis.”

  • "I'm excited to see the release of this new and innovative product. I look forward to and encourage the application of this software on additional geotechnical projects.”

  • "In consulting engineering practice, I am increasingly made aware of the important and beneficial role that modeling the unsaturated soil zone can play in providing the client with the best possible engineered solution. The SoilVision software has made it possible to readily estimate and incorporate unsaturated soil properties into the modeling of saturated / unsaturated soil systems.”

  • "The use of SVSLOPE® software as part of a research project on clay slopes under seismic conditions with the Université de Sherbrooke has been incredibly easy and effective. The continuation of this research with SoilVision is promising, with technical support, which was present at the right time, as well as a passionate geotechnical team supporting the project.”

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