Officine Maccaferri


How to Protect Open-Pit Mine Infrastructure from Rockfalls?

open pit mines rockfall

Rockfall events can affect mine safety and operations. With over 60 years’ experience in rockfall protection systems, we offer a wide range of “Mac.RO™ systems” to stabilize rock faces, reducing risks and costs

Rockfall solutions for open-pit mines should be carefully customized following an analysis of site-specific natural and anthropogenic risks. Our extensive experience in rockfall protection systems and natural hazard mitigation, makes us the ideal partner in designing and installing reliable solutions to stabilize rock faces, reducing risks and costs for mine owners. 

Open-pit mine safety and operations can be threatened by rockfall hazards, which can sometimes cause serious disruption to mine productivity and result in significant financial losses. This problem should be addressed with a targeted approach, as each specific site requires an analysis of its particular natural and anthropogenic risks.

When designing rockfall solutions for this type of mines, we take into due account a series of parameters, including subsurface geology, slope morphology, hydro-meteorological conditions, vegetation and loads from equipment. This allows us to design an optimal engineering solution choosing the most appropriate products from our wide range of Mac.RO™ systems, depending also on the tasks to be performed:

  • our Steelgrid® high-strength mesh is ideal for drapery on high walls, containing rock detachment, and to provide surface stabilisation on areas prone to slippage;
  • our HEA (High Energy Absorption) Panels in conjunction with ground or rock anchors are the ideal solution to protect rock slopes with a high degree of fracturing;
  • our dynamic barriers, with energy absorption up to 8,500 kJ, can protect haul roads, quarry machinery and other facilities from falling rocks.

Steelgrid® High-Strength Rockfall Drapery

Steelgrid® is used to protect open-pit mine slopes. It is a high strength, high stiffness steel geocomposite combining double twist mesh with high tensile steel cables, forming a single product, which can be easily deployed in hard-to-reach quarry areas, saving installation cost and time.

Steelgrid® is supplied to the construction site in 25m long rolls (or longer in other markets). A standard Euro trailer can carry 6,000 to 6,300 m² of Steelgrid®.

We manufacture two types of rockfall mesh systems:

  • Steelgrid® HR, with steel cables longitudinally woven into the double-twist mesh
  • Steelgrid® BO (bi-oriented), with steel cables inserted in the cross and inline directions. Extra cables added to the mesh structure enhance its capability.

Furthermore, Steelgrid® can be additionally reinforced with anchor plates, specific U-bolts and mesh connectors.

hea panel

HEA (High Energy Absorption) Panels

Our HEA Panels are the stiffest products within our Mac.RO™ Systems mesh range offering extreme strength at low strain. The panels are woven from a single continuous length of high tensile strength steel wire rope, joined at each crossing point with the patented HEA ‘double knot’ connection.

Panels are designed for long-term static loads. In case of a rock breakage, the whole load created by the fragmented material is transmitted to the knot connections and evenly redistributed to the entire mesh, so that the energy is dissipated.

HEA panels can be used alone or in combination with our Double-Twist mesh or Steelgrid® HR and BO drapery systems. When coupled with our geosynthetic mat MacMat R, HEA panels can be used with dowel reinforcement to protect slopes from landslides and erosion.

dynamic barrier

Dynamic Rockfall Barriers

It can sometimes be impossible to anchor drapery and HEA panels on hard-to-reach slopes, due to cost or safety issues. In this case, dynamic rockfall barriers are deployed towards the foot of rock walls. Barriers are designed to arrest and catch falling rocks and boulders before they fall onto mine infrastructure, machinery and haul-roads. Our range includes barriers with certified energy absorption capacity from 500 to 8,500kJ. Our barriers offer the lowest maximum deflection under impact, and highest residual height in the market.

The most important element of the barrier is our patented compression brake, or damper, which absorbs the impact energy, transferring it throughout the barrier structure. The barrier consists of the brakes, support cables and posts, barrier panels and anchors with bracing cables. When impacted, the brake is progressively crushed, and the load is evenly distributed between the posts, thereby minimizing stress on all the elements of the barrier. When the compression brake has been triggered, there is no need to replace the entire barrier; it is only necessary to remove fallen rocks and replace the used components and compression brake.

All the barrier models have been successfully tested and certified to comply with ETAG 027. Barrier designs can vary in height, amount of energy absorption brakes / dampers, type of barrier mesh and other features.

Contact us if you need technical assistance and detailed advice.

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