Here is a picture of a mining disaster waiting to happen. This is a mine in Australia that is shut down because too much rain has filled their tailings impoundment and they appear to have no facilities to treat water hence to release it.
That tailings dam should not be so full of water. Last time I saw anything equivalent was the Bafokeng dam a before it burst, killed thirteen, and flowed fifty miles. Or maybe the Merrispruit dam photos just before it failed.
It is amazing that so many years later, there is a slimes dam like this one with so much water on it. And this is a uranium slime dam. I thought miners had stopped using the slimes dam as a water storage dam. Too many such joint-use facilities have failed, yet here we have another.
If you read reports, you will see trotted out all the usual platitudes and lies:
We are well regulated, thus all is well. BS. The regulators are probably as incompetent as any anywhere in the world, or as much in bed with the industry as the oil guys were with BP in the gulf. It’s that British accent that mesmerizes the colonials every time.
There has been a lot of rain in the past. Probably true. They probably had some university professor of statistics tell them that is was an acceptable risk to run to not have a way to store more water than occurs in an average year. That same professor has probably never read The Black Swan or any other light literature on extreme statistics. But he is probably charming and charismatic and gets paid well.
The mine’s CEO says that ensuring water quality is important to the company. What else can the sleepy dope say? This is the supreme platitude. He has probably been trained to say this by some dolly-bird he hires to give him placatory-sounding statements to feed dumb journalists.
The mine issues a statement saying the are working on a water treatment plant to get the cleanest water possible. Meanwhile the consultants have been telling them for years this should be done. And for year the consultants have been told to hold off. “Too expensive, better to take the risk!” Now the consultants are being whipped as they work overtime to churn out a design for any-old-thing that can be brought on line fast.
If you do not believe me, read the following from the web:
Rio Tinto Ltd says its majority-controlled Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) Ltd is accelerating work to minimise the risk of water overflows at a tailings dam at its Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory. ERA, which is 68.4 per cent held by Rio Tinto, was forced in late January to suspend uranium processing operations at the mine for the remainder of the wet season after heavy rains filled the tailings dam to near capacity. ERA last week committed to invest $220 million in process water management and treatment projects at Ranger. Chief executive Tom Albanese said ensuring water integrity at the mine was important to the company. “We will be certainly accelerating that with engineering work to develop it in stages, and we’ll certainly be taking that very seriously,” Mr Albanese told the meeting. Mr Albanese said the brine concentrator would produce “the cleanest possible water that can be”.
My interest in this story was prompted by the following questions that appeared from a young journalist [KIRSTIE FITZGERALD [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] who is working on a story about the mine:
Do you have any concerns in regards to the closure of the ERA Ranger mine due to water managment planning??
How does this affect PEKO’s shareholdings in the company??
Do you support the temporary closure of the mine in order to improve water management??
Do you have any intention of selling your shares if the market drops due to the closure??
Has ERA adequetley informed you on the closure of the Ranger mine and its future plans for it??
I do not edit her spelling or double ??. She is presumably Australian and impressed by British accents. As for the phrase “water management planning” all I can say is she has swallowed the mine’s propaganda hook, line, and sinker. Orwell would be proud. The mine looks from the photo above to have a water excess disaster on it hands and has obviously shut down as they are shitting themselves. It is absence of planning that is their problem, not current water management planning activities.
I am a trifle angry in this posting. But this is so predictable a situation; it has occurred so often at other mines; and yet it has been allowed to happen again. Shame. It is like people who live in flood plains and then cry when the basement floods. You can have no sympathy for them. Nor can I for this mine.