The geology and rock mass quality of the Cenozoic Kalahari Group, Nchwaning Mine Northern Cape.
Puchner, Richard A.
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With the extension of the Nchwaning Mine shaft complex in the Northern Cape Province, various geological and geotechnical complications needed to be identified in order to ensure correct use of tunnelling methods and support techniques. An understanding of the geological history of the area and the resulting geotechnical nature was important in defining the rock mass quality ahead of shaft development. A total of 12 geotechnical boreholes were drilled, and an additional 18 old boreholes revisited to accurately detennine the stratigraphy, geological structure and associated weathering effects. Various soils and rock testing helped quantify the materials encountered. Sands of the Gordonia Fonnation form the surface cover of this area, and together with the weathered calcrete, calc-arenite, conglomerate and clay, they form part of the Cenozoic Kalahari Group. The 30m thick basal unit of red clay is common throughout this region. This silty clay material is problematic in that it is expansive and hygroscopic. The clay unit rests unconformably on folded, faulted and highly weathered shale of the Proterozoic Lucknow and Mapedi Formations of the Olifantshoek Supergroup. Unconformably below this sequence lies the manganiferous ore deposits of the Hotazel Member, which is contained within the Voelwater Formation of the Griqualand West Supergroup. For the development of the decline shaft through the Gordonia Formation a box cut was excavated to a depth of 25m. The anticipated poor geotechnical conditions for a further 125m below the Gordonia sands called for high quality permanent tunnel support in the upper weathered horizons. Barton's Q-analysis was adopted as a recognized tunnelling quality index to predict and quantify the rock mass characteristics ahead of the shaft. The highly variable and generally low Q-values from borehole core analysis indicated that precast tunnel lining be used for 800m (at 11.5°) through the entire weathered Cenozoic sequence and into the weathered shales immediately below the Red Clay.