Comments on a risk assessment tool for tailings storage facilities

A colleague of ours asked for comments on a risk assessment tool for tailings storage facilities paper by Chovan et al (A risk assessment tool for tailings storage facilities ( We accepted and decided to prepare this piece. The reason is that we have seen various other attempts by reputable engineering companies to use similar methodologies leading to similar comments from our end. The application of simplified methodologies, or unproven approximations in the field of tailings dams could harm people…

Read More

Factor of Safety and probability of failure of geostructures

Today we discuss the Factor of Safety and probability of failure of geostructures. We presented this discussion  at TMW 2020 and are delighted to share with you our talk.    This information is applicable to dams as well as dumps and pit slopes. However that requires the analyst pay attention to the specific details pertaining each type of structure. Factor of safety and probability of failure of geostructures The Factor of Safety (FoS) measures the ability of a structure to…

Read More

Dam Monitoring Effects

Dam monitoring effect is a case history. A client acquired a mining properties portfolio. It included inactive dams at closed mines. Some of these structures were relatively well documented, while others were not. As a result, the client was facing important decisions, one of them being the effort to enhance the knowledge on the structures. The question the client asked was: “What happens to a particular dam if the level of knowledge we have on an inactive dam goes from…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

Point Read Operate for Tailings Dams design

Point Read Operate for Tailings Dams design discusses a well-known practice used in other fields. Indeed, if you traveled to Japan you certainly saw metro-trains operators pointing down the platform and calling out—seemingly to no one—as trains roll in and out of the station. Onboard it is much the same, with drivers and conductors performing almost ritual-like movements. If you were in the NAVY you will also remember the PRO method they teach for operating switches, valves, and basically anything.…

Read More

Catastrophic dam failures path forward at Tailings and Mine Waste

The keynote lecture Catastrophic dam failures path forward at Tailings and Mine Waste Conference was an enlightening speech. Henry Brehaut corroborated the views Riskope have expressed over the last decade. The validity of our methodological developments is confirmed once again. We are pleased to comment and express some impressions from the keynote lecture. The message Henry Brehaut delivered includes looking at: getting things right, looking at details, identifying gaps and hidden flaws. Finally, reactive catastrophic failure analysis is not the optimum…

Read More

Brazilian Tailings Dam Failure

The short movie  below was uploaded in March 2014 (the course was given in Brazil in the Fall 2013). The course was given to over forty Engineers and Technicians in charge of various mines and tailings dams in Brazil. It was followed by a conference we gave at the university of Minas Gerais. Now the catastrophe has occurred. The physical, reputational and social damages are clear to anyone. Let’s see if the Brazilian legal system will actually follow through with…

Read More


Hosted and powered by WR London.