Firstly using FLAC3D, rock mass models are established and numerically compressed to analyse the effects of confining stress and dip angle of structural plane, respectively. The results indicates the constructed models are able to exhibit the effect laws that compressive strength of real rock masses are obviously impacted by the two most significant factors. Then rock mass models respecting the dip angle distribution from in-situ survey are constructed, assigned parameters from laboratory test, numerically compressed and analysed to get their uniaxial compressive strengthes. Comparatively analysed and mutual verified with results from Hoek-Brown criterion, the parameters of engineering rock masses are comprehensively determined. Finally, the happened failure, token place at the northeast slope in first mining area of Pingshuo East Surface mine, is simulated on a numerical 3D slope model and its mechanism is back analysed and summarized as: due to the unloading effect of excavation, the exposed broken weathered layer under the weathered sanstone turns into plastic state, the shear bond develops and expands above to upper layers, finally outcrops and slids overall without other enough confines. This papper attempts to build a connection between the laboratory test and field situation to more efficiently and conveniently determine the strength parameters of engineering rock masses by combining numerical simulation with empirical criterion, and apply it to the failure mechanism analysis of a surface mine slope. The results are reasonable and approach adopted can be used as a reference to similar engineerings.

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