Catastrophic failures forensic analyses

Catastrophic failures forensic analyses are, most of the time, left in the hand of experiences engineers. At least, that’s the case for tailings dams failures and other catastrophes like major infrastructural accidents and for instance, aviation. Are we sure that is the best way? Normalization of deviance, management and decision-making are oftentimes ingredients of the catastrophic failure buildup, not only “engineering”. So, we dare to say, Independent Panels should include social scientists. They seem to be the most qualified to…

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Quantifying Tailings Dam Risks at MIRA

Quantifying Tailings Dam Risks at MIRA (Mining Insurance and Risk Association) one hour session took place on June 11th 2020. The talk presented a comprehensive approach to address how to quantify and prioritize tailings dam risks, especially in the context of large dams’ inventories. In this blogpost we summarize the Q/A session that followed the talk, classified by theme. The full talk is viewable on Youtube    At the end we present a synthesis before some closing remarks. Understanding geology and…

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Distinguishing knowledge in risk assessment and risk-informed decision making

Distinguishing knowledge in risk assessment and risk-informed decision making is paramount and this post shows an example. Once upon a time we were studying large Alpine landslides in the Alps. We were working in a Swiss Federal Research Project.  We were members of a multidisciplinary team encompassing geologists, hydro-geologists, monitoring specialists and ourselves as geotechnical engineers and risk (hazard) specialists. The research project focused on landslides prone areas characterized by “continuous” movement. For those slopes, failure is a brutal and…

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CIM Tailings Workshop Series comments

Within the frame of the CIM Tailings Workshop Series  pre-workshop comments participants were asked three questions aiming at “feeding” the discussions. Below are the three questions and our “short” replies.  What is a tailings system? From a physical point of view, not in order of importance: start at the pumps in the mill, pipelines, spigots, dam(s), all water management ancillary facilities (including diversions, decants, spillways), roadway at the crown, seepage collection facilities, decant raft and pipes, monitoring, investigations and testing…

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Demands for Zero Risk

Oftentimes when explaining risks to Management or the public “Demands for Zero Risk” objection arise. Repeatedly, stakeholders may point out that any “non zero” risk is unacceptable. Indeed, in the aftermath of any recent accident (Samarco, Cadia, Mount Polley) public opinion, regulators, law enforcement agencies and the media vehemently embrace that vision. However, the first reaction should be to declare that goal  as not realistic as any endeavor has intrinsic risks. Indeed, we are exposed to hazards and resulting risks…

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Risk tolerance thresholds

Everyone has a different pain threshold and likewise, everyone has different risk tolerance thresholds. We use the plural because each one of us has various thresholds, for example, a perceived one and a financial one. Your risk and risk tolerance thresholds made simple Anyone of us, every-day decides to undertake some activities and consciously or unconsciously assumes risks we consider acceptable/tolerable or sometimes intolerable.Think about various activities: Hunting, fishing, driving a heavy vehicle, and finally cooking in one’s house. They…

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Tailings Dams Review Boards and Inspection Reports

Tailings dams review boards and inspection Reports exist because of a voluntary effort by the mining industry to improve and mitigate dams “issues”. In addition, mining companies are under pressure to be more transparent on their “issues”. We discuss below the term “issue”.   UNEP 2017 report and more recently Church of England initiative and ICMM “global code” are all expressions of this growing pressure. Thus, mining companies are requesting the publication of Tailings dams review boards and inspection Reports. Publication…

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Slope Failure Definition

Slope Failure definition is the second step of a slope risk assessment. The first step is, of course, system definition. It is indeed paramount to clearly state what is considered the success of the slope under consideration. Indeed, unless one clearly defines success, failure remains an ambiguous term (Adams, 2015). Generally we define the success of a slope as the fact that: it stands as built and does not afflict operations (traffic, ore recovery, business interruption, H&S). it features slow…

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