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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Anticipating Objections to risk assessments

Anticipating Objections to risk assessments is paramount to foster social licence to operate (SLO) and corporate social responsibility (CSR). The first step is to avoid any suspicion of conflict of interest. Indeed, risk assessments should be performed by an independent entity (Brehaut, 2017, UNEP). That is to avoid conflict of interest (Oboni, Zabolotoniuk, 2013) and assuage public concerns. Nevertheless, the proponent of a project might feel vulnerable if that information becomes public. Thus, today we discuss how to help remove…

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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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Tailings dam risk communication

Experience shows that successful risk communications always focuses on planned control measures and precautionary actions rather than on risks. Indeed, like in many other fields, actions speak louder than words. Because actions are what matters to the public. Thus, today, we explore our experience in tailings dam risk communication. In mining, oil and gas and other industries, people demand to know what preventative actions are foreseen. That is even if it is claimed that the likelihood of an accident and…

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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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Deception of Credible scenario

Personal human experience, bounded rationality and deception of credible scenario are important in the context of risk identification.   Risk identification is a fundamental phase of a risk assessment. It intervenes after system and objectives definition. Oftentimes we hear that practitioners consider only credible scenarios in a risk identification exercise. Today we explore why only considering credible scenario is a deception and could lead you to disaster. Incidentally, this might be one of the reasons leading numerous unrealistic risk assessment…

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