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Cognitive biases apply to tailings discussions

Cognitive biases apply to tailings discussions more than one could think. Indeed, cognitive biases can cloud debates and oftentimes lead to worrisome “alternative facts” bordering with fake news. Cognitive biases are likely hidden in glossy documents, websites, seemingly authoritative statistical approaches which are then oftentimes referenced by inattentive readers. The final effect is of course to perpetrate the cognitive drifts. Original authors foster the noble cause of reducing the risks posed by the hazardous structures used to contain tailings, i.e.…

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Notes on Global Tailings Standard Draft for Public Consultation

In follow-up to Aidan Davy’s (ICMM) keynote session at TMW2019, here are our Notes on Global Tailings Standard Draft for Public Consultation. To this date the three co-conveners (UNEP, ICMM and PRI) reportedly did not endorse the draft. Positive Notes on Global Tailings Standard Draft for Public Consultation We found the current draft to be an overall well written document. It encompasses important points on: human rights (see chapter 5 on “what people want” in our latest book) conflict of…

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Light on Tailings dams failures

The Church of England Pensions Board and the Council of Ethics of the Swedish National Pension Funds published some recently collected numbers shedding some light on Tailings dams failures.   How many active dams in the world did we assume earlier? In the literature we oftentimes see the number 3500 to characterize the total tailings dam inventory in the world. We used that number in both the following papers: Oboni, C., Oboni F., Factual and Foreseeable Reliability of Tailings Dams and…

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ORE2_Tailings case history

ORE2_Tailings case history looks at a real tailings dam. It shows how to interpret ORE2_Tailings probabilities ranges predictions, benchmarks and other useful indications.   Description of the real-life active tailings dam case history The case history is a 72.5m high dam with a modified centerline cross section. Construction has stopped, meaning there is no active deposition at this time. Therefore the dam is inactive. The dam stores tailings and a supernatant pond. It has a weir in fair state of…

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Facts about worldwide tailings dam performances

Reliable facts about worldwide tailings dam performances are hard to come by. Emotions or politically driven approaches often lead to fake news in mining which feed media eager to sell copies. Indeed, “wannabe” comprehensive reviews of tailings dam failures oftentimes also draw conclusion that may at first feel right. However, under closer scrutiny, they are far from being realistic for a variety of reasons we will endeavor to discuss today. Counting accidents Taxonomy of accidents A reasonable approach is to…

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AI with poor data and extreme events

We have been speaking about AI with poor data and extreme events in recent blogs and there is a chapter touching on this in our book. Big data, machine learning and AI can only work if, well, big data exists. A recent MIT study has shown this. AI with poor data and extreme events, a risky mix In mining, dams failures are relatively rare events despite what sensationalistic media and activists state without delving with detailed numeric analyses or by…

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Tailings dam failure and risk confusion

Nosso Senhora do Livramento in Mato Grosso, Brazil is an example of tailings dam failure and risk confusion. The dam failure reportedly injured two.  Available optical imagery showed a rather contained spill in a flat area at the toe. What we know on the Nosso Senhora do Livramento in Mato Grosso tailings dam At failure, the structure was reportedly 15 m high with a storage volume of 580,000 m³. The material released by the dambreak spread up to 2km downstream.…

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Risk definition is paramount amid tailings problem

Risk definition is paramount amid tailings problem. A recent example is the Almaden Ixtaca Project, Mexico. We read in a publicly available information: “The mine plan has a dry stack filtered tailings facility, and co disposal with waste rock with no tailings dam, eliminating the risk of a tailings dam failure.” We salute the effort to reduce from inception a source of multiple hazards and hence risks generated by the tailings dam. However we want to discuss a few notions…

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