Tailings and Mine waste 2015 focusing on risks and tailings stewardship (TMW2015) in Vancouver

Tailings and Mine waste 2015 focusing on risks and tailings stewardship (TMW2015) in Vancouver

Nov 4th, 2015

Soon we will participate in the conference Tailings and Mine waste 2015 focusing on risks and tailings stewardship (TMW2015) in Vancouver.

Tailings and Mine waste 2015 focusing on risks and tailings stewardship

We were puzzled to still see some papers and hearing some talks confusing the term “risk” for consequence of an adverse event or likelihood of an event. The result of those glossary slips is confusion and difficulties in performing practical risk assessments.

Tailings and Mine waste 2015 focusing on risks and tailings stewardship

Like in other industries, most of the participants who use risk assessment are comfortable in using FMEAs. Voices are raising however, and for once not only from Riskope, to go toward better, more transparent methodologies. We were happy to see use and citations of our work!

Many have stressed the need for independent reviews. Of course also strong Engineer of Record mandates, developing their work without pressure or conflict of interest.

On a different line of presentations we have heard how stewardship, an umbrella activity covering all aspects of care, requires the creation of one critical information repository at corporate level. In turn, that allows immediate access to all pertinent information. At Riskope we salute this as a obvious parallel to what we do in ORE (Optimum Risk Estimates) deployments, aiming at enhancing environmental protection, society at large, stakeholders and of course, the engineers of record.

Reducing risks is part of tailings stewardship

We noted that reducing risks is part of tailings stewardship and one cannot add value if there is no confidence.

The Keynote lecture of water treatment explained that risks, uncertainties, variabilities should be included in life cycle evaluations of water treatment. Again this is a theme we have pushed forward at Riskope. The result was the deployment of the CDA/ESM methodology for projects evaluation.

There was one full session with papers on dam breach analysis. It ecompassed detailed discussions of:

  • breach and flooding analysis,
  • statistics of accidents,
  • rates of failure and
  • probabilistic estimates of the number of accidents.

A welcome addition was a discussion of the formulation of  multidimensional consequence functions. We heard that CDA (Canadian Dam Association) is working on various themes and we look forward to reading their results!

Finally, we heard several voices stating that tolerance is “nil” for tailings accidents. Thus there is no other path than the one that leads to “zero failures”. During one discussion we warned the audience that, by setting such unrealistic goals, the industry as a whole is setting itself up for a major confidence crisis (it’s already ongoing).

We do not know of any other industry, from nuclear to aviation, utilities, hazardous substances which corners itself in such a way.

Interestingly one of the delegates picked on our line of thoughts and said how difficult it was to state that a dam is safe and “will not fail”. And then explain to people that dam breach analyses and inundation studies have to be prepared.

There is still a long path of education and communication lying ahead of us if we want to avoid this type of public disorientation.

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Category: Consequences, Hazard, Mitigations, Probabilities, Probability Impact Graphs, Risk analysis, Tolerance/Acceptability

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