Bench Structural Integrity Modeling of Oil Sands for Optimum Cable Shovel Performance:
The ultimate bearing capacity of bench and haul road formations are essential for the health and longevity of shovel crawlers. In soft saturated formations (especially in the Athabasca oil sands formation), heavy machines have been known to sink, resulting in production losses and high operating costs. Companies have solved these problems by widening the shovel crawlers to reduce average stresses on the formation, which may also be costly. In this study, the authors provide a solution to this problem using fundamental research. The Buisman-Terzaghi model is used to develop bench/haul road bearing capacities and their structural integrity within an oil sand formation at an environmental temperature of 25°C. A 3D finite element (FE) model of the formation is developed in ABAQUS to examine the average stresses and deformations on the formation at static equilibrium. The results show that the deformation of oil sand occurs during the first 30 seconds of crawler interaction.