Impact of climate change change projections on tailings dams survivability

Impact of climate change change projections on tailings dams survivability

May 18th, 2022

Impact of climate change projections on tailings dams survivability is the paper we presented at #CIMBC22 Climate Change and Tailings Management. The authors are M. Gloor, G. Halter, of Correntics (Correntics – we make global supply chains future proof) and Cesar and Franco Oboni.

 Image by TheOtherKev from Pixabay

The session was brilliantly chaired by George Hemingway of Stratalis

Three papers on Climate Change and Tailings Management

 Charles Dumaresq presented the protocols for climate change consideration in mining projects. The protocols are comprehensive and their related guidance goes through the process. However neither the protocol nor the guidance deliver risks assessment or risk mitigation solutions. That is because these are the responsibility of the user. However they account for potential opportunities recognition process.

The process includes three steps:

  1. Climate change risk assessment,
  2. Develop adaptation pathways, and finally
  3. Implement adaptation pathways.

Key is the question related to when to implement adaptation measures and how to define the optimum path.

Once again (see prior blogpost on the panel discussion) we agree with the concepts, but consider the efforts wasted if decision-makers only use qualitative approaches.

Indeed, our paper showed how we can seamlessly integrate climate change projections, including their uncertainties, in our risk evaluation platform ORE2_Tailings™.  We developed these concepts in detail in our recent book Convergent Leadership-Divergent Exposures.

Finally Michael Louws delivered a 2021 BC flood case study on consequences. The paper included a rather detailed analysis of the multi-dimensional aspects of the dikes failures. These included livestock deaths, highways closures, RR flooding and business interruptions.

We took the opportunity to note how misleading the classic approach to consequences are. Indeed, qualifying consequences “class” by selecting the worst dimension leads to significant underestimations.

Finally Michaels showed that river dikes design criteria are comparable to mining ditches criteria. This reminded us of recent studies we have conducted on tailings dams with rivers running at their toes. Many jurisdictions protect those banks against ridiculously low flooding returns. These are certainly not compatible with the long term preservation of tailings retaining structures. And that is especially worrisome in view of climate change effects.

Closing remarks on Impact of climate change projections on tailings dams survivability

Once again we think that too much emphasis is given to obsolete and arbitrary approaches.

Many actors use excuses to justify “paralysis”. That is especially sad to hear at a conference that was all about innovation and “new ways” to do business and better mining industry performance.

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Category: Consequences, Crisis management, Mitigations, Probabilities, Risk analysis, Risk management

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