Technical and economic analysis of three approaches for construction of mine haulage roads on Canadian peatlands

Author(s): K. Smith, H. Ghiabi, B. Mofid
CIM Convention in Vancouver May 6-9, 2018


Peatlands cover 18% of Canadian land area and are in regions containing significant quantities of valuable mineral resources (e.g. Northern Ontario Ring of Fire). Developing these areas would be a tremendous economic benefit for Canada, however their development has remained slow due to lacking infrastructure in remote peatland locations. In this paper, three approaches are analyzed for constructing road embankments on peat for mine haulage purposes. These include: 1) constructing the embankment directly on top of the existing peat; 2) excavation of peat and replacement with more suitable base and sub-base materials, and 3) geo-synthetic reinforcement of the embankment on the peat. A stratigraphic model with a specific peat depth is developed using averaged or common peat parameters. Using this model, a technical analysis is completed using a finite element modelling software (i.e. RS2-Phase 2). The technical analysis provides the design and material quantities required in order for each approach to be serviceable, or to achieve an acceptable level of differential settlement. These material quantities are then used in an economic analysis to estimate the construction costs, to assess the potential risks of each approach, and to determine the most cost-effective construction method. The results of this paper provide a basis for future development of Canadian peatlands, including the Ring of Fire.