Bench Face Design in Rock

Areas of Study: Geotechnics

Qualifies for Certification

A course for geotechnical engineers, engineering geologists and mining engineers concerned with design and maintenance of benched excavations in rock for open pit mining and quarrying, including data collection and reduction, a statistical approach to failure analysis and design, and methods for stability improvement.

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  • Audience Level:
  • Professional
  • Enrollment:
  • Required
  • Duration:
  • 20 hours

Course Summary


Bench Face Design in Rock is intended as both a course and a technical reference for an audience of mining engineers, engineering geologists and geotechnical engineers concerned with design and maintenance of benched excavations in rock for open pit mining, quarrying or highway construction. Complementary courses on Geotechnical Data Collection for Excavation in Rock and Reinforcement Design for Excavation in Rock, by the same author, are also available.

The course provides a comprehensive discussion of the parameters and methodology of bench face design in rock, from data collection and basic geotechnical approaches through to the more complex questions of estimating bench face angles and distributions, design sensitivity to rock mass parameters, and the influences of drilling and blasting procedures. Analytical procedures are presented for simple and complex failure geometries for plane failure, wedge failure and toppling, including the use of statistical methods for simulation of discontinuity networks and identification and analysis of potential failure geometries.

Course topics include:

  • Analysis of Existing Benches
  • Structural Data Collection
  • Rock Fabric Data Reduction
  • Rock Material Testing
  • Bench Analysis for Simple Failure Geometries
  • Bench Analysis for Complex Failure Geometries
  • Catch Benches and Stability Improvement

Course Content

Bench Face Design in Rock consists of 31 viewing sessions of 30 - 60 minutes each with supporting figures, tables and examples, plus interactive course reviews. Course duration is equivalent to approximately 20 hours of viewing content.

Learning Outcomes

  • Discuss methods for data collection, analysis and reduction in the context of bench face design.
  • Discuss analytical methods for dealing with both simple and complex failure geometries in bench face design.
  • Discuss the impact of drilling and blasting procedures and drainage on bench stability and methods for improving stability.
  • Apply the knowledge gained to practical investigation, analysis and design of bench faces in rock.

Recommended Background

  • A degree in mining or geotechnical engineering, engineering geology or related discipline.
  • Experience with underground and/or surface excavation in rock.

James Mathis

Dr. Mathis received his B.Sc. in Mining Engineering from the University of Nevada Reno and a Doctorate in Rock Mechanics Engineering from the Högskolan i Luleå, Sweden. He has over 30 years of engineering consulting experience in rock mechanics. He holds professional engineering registration in Arizona (USA), Washington (USA), Nevada (USA), Northwest Territories (Canada), British Columbia (Canada), and Queensland (Australia). One of his primary specialties is rock mass characterization, with emphasis on definition and inclusion of discontinuities in statistical assessment of opening designs for rock. His research has been practically applied in a wide range of mining operations, both surface and underground.