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Tables of Risk comparisons

Most tables of risk comparisons in the literature contain a mix of risks characterized by different levels of uncertainty. In addition, most risk comparisons in those tables offer only single number risk estimates, with no range or error term. For risks such as driving, where fatalities can be counted on large samples, the number is likely to be reliable, at least in some countries. However, even if the risk comparison data are carefully and accurately reported, they can be misleading.…

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Of Human and Dams Health

Someone asked us to do a ELI5 tailings dam failure (i.e. Explain me Like I am 5, aka explain in layman’s term what are the problem in the management of dams). We find the similarities on common traits of Human and Dams Health particularly striking and hope it helps people to understand the missing pieces. Human Health Human health is a complex field. Numerous factors (Key performance Indicators) may generate diseases which provoke failure modes, such as: Heart issues Lungs…

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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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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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