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The five pictures in this posting, were taken (by me) at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.  This place is surely a testament to genius and attention to detail.

Yesterday I was asked if Canadian guidelines are adequate to deal with the Mt Polley situation. More specifically, the questions continued: if the current Canadian guidelines regarding tailings dam safety had been implemented, would the failure have been avoided. Before I answer these questions, let us first take a look at the guidelines that are out there. (more…)

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Here are the stories of the seven dam failures that have occurred since the beginning of 2012. Six are failures of tailings facilities. The seventh is a rockfill dam. The following are extracts from technical papers that I wrote well before the Mt Polley failure. Details of the first three are available at this link. Details of the remaining four are in a paper that I will present at the Tailings and Mine Waste 2014 conference in Colorado in October of this year. (more…)

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The Vancouver Sun reports as follows about the Mt Polley tailings failure:

Likely resident Gerald MacBurney worked at Mount Polley for seven years, the last two he says as a foreman directing work on the tailings dam.

He says AMEC instructed the company to bring in five million tonnes of rock to shore up the outside of the dam in order to handle the increased amount of water in the tailings pond.

He said the company never carried through, perhaps only bringing in one million tonnes of rock.

That’s because they didn’t want to take their large equipment — big haul trucks that can carry as much as 120 to 200 tonnes — away from delivering ore to the mill, according to MacBurney.

(more…)

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The official statements are now beginning to appear re Mt Polley.  Here are two.  First from the Mining Association of Canada. (more…)

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Standard accident theory tells us that an accident occurs when many small incidents or omissions line up.  It is like a pile of Swiss cheese with hole in it: inevitably a pile of cheese with hole in it will result where holes line up and you could poke a knitting needle through the holes without penetrating the cheese. This theory explains what happened at Mt Polley.  Many tiny acts and omissions lined up—and we see now the results. (more…)

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It is always a very sad day when a major tailings facility failure occurs.  As one commenter noted to me: “Whatever the facts, the failure casts a poor light on the industry, and makes all of our jobs more difficult in the future.”  Today we write about the failure of the Mt Polley tailings facility right here in British Columbia.  I write only on the basis of the information readily available on the web.  I have no other source of knowledge of this facility. (more…)

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Geosynthetics Mining Solutions is the first ever conference to address the topic of the use of geosynthetics in mining.  InfoMine is organizing the conference which will take place in Vancouver on September 8 to 11th, 2014.  For my sins I am sort of leading the team organizing the conference. (more…)

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I have probable made this point before, but I make it again, as last week I came across a good example of what happens when the following advice is ignored.  All reports issues by a consultant should be peer reviewed before issue.  It is as simple as that. (more…)

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Words cannot capture a day of intense impressions.  Yet let me try. Go east of Lima into the hills (as I did today) and see this:

  • Tailings clinging to the steep hills in defiance of gravity.
  • A mine closed by the government to perfection.  They know what they are doing!
  • Filter-pressed tailings transported fifty kilometers up 1000 m elevation to a new disposal site — economically?

(more…)

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The great news is that all is going well regarding the upcoming conference Geosynthetics Mining Solutions.  The conference is to be held in Vancouver September 8 to 11, 2014.

We have sold out the sponsorships–so almost everybody that is anybody in the world of geosynthetics manufacturers, suppliers, and installers will be there.  I am very grateful to them all.  But most impressive is that many have teamed with consultants to write paper about the application of their products in mining case histories.

We have published the first list of papers.  May change as more come in or, sadly, one or two drop out.  But I think it is fair to say that we have an extraordinary set of papers, most of which include case histories new to me.  In fact I am amazed and impressed at the variety of new applications to which geosynthetics are being put in the mining industry.  Here are three that catch my attention:

  • Rigid Inclusions for Embankment Support over Waste Phosphatic Clay by Ed Garbin, James D. Hussin, Jeffrey R. Hill
  • GCLs in heap leach pads: state of the art and practice by T. Meyer and C. Athanassopoulos
  • Use of an innovative geocomposite (paradrain) to build a reinforced 2H:1V slope using clay and silty soils for stormwater management pond by Ravin Nag, Jasmina Nikodinoska

In addition to a superb collection of papers with practical bent, we have the support of leading practitioners who will present keynote speeches on the work they are doing in geosynthetics in mining.  You may have seen some of the adverts in recent magazines that list most of them.  Due to an oversight on my part (I get old)  we did not list Mark Smith.  But here I wish to make amends.  I have never met Mark, but I have read just about everything he has written and published on geosynthetics, and I know he knows his stuff better than the rest of us.  I look forward to meeting him and hearing him talk.

On the Monday preceding the conference we have three short courses. Here the details

Course 1 – Geosynthetic Design Considerations for Heap Leach Pads – “Extreme Fill Loads on Geomembrane Liner Systems”

Presenters:

Timothy D. Stark, Ph.D., P.E., D.GE, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

Robert H. Swan, Jr., Drexel University, USA

Allan Breitenbach, Ausenco, USA

R. Kerry Rowe, Queens University, Canada

View the course outline

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Course 2 – Introduction to Geosynthetics in Mining

Presenters:

Dirk van Zyl, Professor and Chair of Mining and the Environment, University of British Columbia, Canada

Sam Allen, Vice President, TRI Geosynthetics Services, USA

Terry Mandziak, P.E., Principal Consultant, Geotechnical Engineering, SRK Consulting (U.S.), Inc., USA

View the course outline

———-

Course 3 – Horizontal Drainage, QA and QC: Cost Effective Strategies to Ensure Safe, Leak-Proof and Efficient Geosynthetic Lining Systems

Presenters:

Eric Blond, eng.M.Sc.A., Vice-president, SAGEOS/CTT Group, Canada

Arnaud Budka, ing., Project Director, Groupe Alphard, Canada

Pascal Saunier, P.Eng., Ing., Technical Director, Afitex-Texel Inc., Canada

View the course outline

This is the first conference specifically on the topic of geosynthetics in mining.  And it promises to be great.  Come join us and register now.

 

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