Threat from and threat to concepts

Threat from and threat to concepts

Feb 26th, 2020

In our courses we always introduce the Threat from and threat to concepts because they apply to risk assessment and risk management.

Threat from and threat to concepts

Oftentimes engineers and technical people have a “facility-centric” approach. This means they see the facility they are studying as a potential source of hazard exposures. In mining, this means looking for example at the pit or tailings as the sources of hazards to “the environment”.

Thus, oftentimes the analysts see the facility as generating threats to the population, environment, etc. Conversely, routine uses of threats from are seismicity, climate and perhaps terrorism.

In reality, taxonomies clearly stating the two classes are rare. This leads to confusion similarly to confusing hazard consequences and probabilities. As we have noted many times, this is a common pitfall of many risk assessments.

A paper we recently read states that “The mining industry’s approach to disaster risk reduction (DRR) focuses on a narrow set of external vulnerability factors in understanding the cause of dam disasters.” In other words the paper states the mining industry is mostly using a threat to (dams) approach.

In order to better the information level to all stakeholders we believe the taxonomy requires some examples. However, before delivering these examples, we need to define operation’s and corporate hazards.

Operation’s and corporate hazards

Operations’ hazards deal with what happens within the operation’s system (physical, informational perimeter). As a matter of fact they include external hazards hitting the system.

Resources needed to run the mill, such as ore, key material and finally key suppliers, are considered as operational even thus they may lie outside of the operation’s physical perimeter.

In like manner aboriginal or other agents’ protests are also operations’ hazards, unless they escalate to provincial or national level.

Corporate hazards are external hazards impacting operations indirectly (outside of the operation’s perimeter). As a matter of fact:

  • strikes at commercial wharves,
  • logistics difficulties,
  • Forex, tariffs,
  • loss of IP (due to cyber attacks, for example) and finally
  • changes in regulations

are all examples of corporate hazards. In addition, personnel salaries levitation due to governmental policies or other geo-economic causes are also corporate hazards.

Being that, some hazard can however hit both levels. An example are cyber hazards which can hit corporately and the operations.

Threat from and threat to concepts in mining

Let’s focus on an operation with the following macro-element :

  • Extractive area (pit),
  • mill, and finally
  • tailings

Extractive area (pit) example (to be completed on a case-by-case basis)

Threat from

Threat to

Protests, blockades, terrorism

Mill (lack of raw material)

Geology (seismicity)

Population (town sinks into pit)

Geology (insufficient knowledge)

Environment…

Mill example (to be completed on a case-by-case basis)

Threat from

Threat to

Protests, blockades, terrorism

Workers (Health and Safety)

Extractive area

Population (air, water and soil contamination)

Engineering (process and buildings)

Tailings (poor operational management)

Tailings example (to be completed on a case-by-case basis)

Threat from

Threat to

Protests, blockades, terrorism

Workers (Health and Safety)

Environment/climate/seismicity

Population (air, water and soil contamination)

Project and design (lack of effort, excessive arrogance, errors and omissions)

Environment…

Mill (poor operational management)

….

Operations (insufficient inspections, monitoring, maintenance, repairs, etc.)

 

 

Evidently othe tables list should go on to reflect the operation’s system.

Closing remarks

Undoubtedly, thinking in terms of threat from and threat to concepts is beneficial in mining as in any other industry. Indeed, it helps in the hazard identification phase, of course only after the system has been properly defined.

Finally, rational and complete system definition and hazard identification, complete with appropriate taxonomies, are paramount to the development of sensible risk assessments and risk management plans. As a result these will then offer tactical and strategic planning support to their users.

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Category: Consequences, Probabilities, Risk analysis, Risk management

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