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Tailings dams design and experience

Lately several tailings dam failures rocked the mining world. Despite the relative high frequency of these events we have heard engineers qualify the failures as “one in a million”, “extremely rare” or even “black swans”. Today we want to discuss a few concepts on tailings dams design and experience. In particular, we will focus on some disconcerting qualifiers like the ones we just cited above. For example, given the experience of tailings dams catastrophic failures  resulting from combinations of various…

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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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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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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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ORE2_Tailings Potential Failure Causality Analysis

ORE2_Tailings Potential Failure Causality Analysis is one of the features of Riskope’s tailings dam specific application. Indeed ORE2_Tailings looks at the causes of dam failure rather then the reasons why dams fail (the “failure modes”). That is because the root cause of a dam failure is typically the result of a combination of deviances. Recent forensic studies on major catastrophic failures have eloquently demonstrated that. Normalization of deviance Catastrophic failures, like most major accidents are indeed always generated by an…

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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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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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Performance objectives and indicators of Tailings dams with Space observation

Some of our readers are all about Performance objectives and indicators of Tailings dams with Space observation. They work in the imagery and space observation industry. As a result they asked some questions about our book Tailings Dams Management for the Twenty-First Century. Google Earth, image date 10/4/2018 We thought it would be interesting to publish the Q/A session. Q/A session on Performance objectives and indicators of Tailings dams with Space observation Q1: With reference to your book can you…

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