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Archive for the ‘Latin America’ Category

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Many, many years ago I was in Sitka for a conference on Marine Tailings Disposal.  The proceedings were published in a book edited by D.V. Ellis.  You can get a copy from amazon.com for $4.00.  My copy is in the attic of the house in Huntington Beach.  Bet none of the kids will ever read the paper therein that I wrote with John Welsh. Recently one of the many who communicate with me via private email sent me a remarkable document.  It is the DSTP Initiative: 2014 Knowledge Workshop Report dated May 2014.   Keep in mind DSTP stands for Deep Sea Tailings Placement. (more…)

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Just home from a four-week journey that took me to  Peru, Chile, Keystone CO, Banff, and Ekati NWT.  It is good to be back in the house where you can throw off the formalities of travel, eat simple food, and get drunk in private. They say that Peruvian food is the best in the world.  Indeed it is if you are in a fancy, expensive place in Lima.  But go to a mine and eat what the miners eat, and it is terrible beyond belief.  Rice & beans and other unrecognizable substances of gooey texture.  I lost weight.  Maybe it was the altitude = 14,500 ft.  You walk slow and breathe deep in those conditions. (more…)

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A little bit more on the failure of that tailings facility in Brazil from some-one on the ground:

The accident was in a very small mine close to Belo. It was an old tailings dam that was not  supposed to be in operation anymore. But they decide to pile dried tailings on top of it. I don’t have technical details about the failure but I guess it is very similar to a previous one I took you to see. At the moment of the failure, equipment was working at the same point. That’s the reason for the deaths. It is going to take some time for us to get the conclusions about the real cause of the accident. But, as soon as I get some more information I will let you know.

Thanks to this fellow for letting us know.

Here is another comment from someone in Brazil:

The Minas Gerais dam failure is worst because of dead people (3), which means that there is environmental process and also criminal. The problem I see from the two failures is that we still don´t know the causes. In Canada the cause seems to be overtopping or seepage thru the embankment (high pore pressures or piping); in Brazil it seems to have occurred static liquefaction, and the triggering cause possibly excavation of the outer slopes. But we haven´t seen any word about the causes. It is just my guess. In Canada the pictures we saw doesn´t show a good appearance of the dykes. It resembles coarse and loose material, not prepared to have any contact with water. In Brazil it was an old tailings dam, upstream construction, that was being used as a platform for the operation of settling ponds (we call it here “baias”), where the coarse settles and are removed by shovels and transported to piles, and the fines have the same destiny, but need more time to drain and do dry.

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Just got news of the failure of a tailings facility in Brazil.  I can find no English versions of the news.  There are many reports in Portuguese, and you can get them translated via Google.  They provide little information about the engineering causes or consequences, other than that at least three and possibly as many as ten are dead. (more…)

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While we in BC have been preoccupied by the Mt Polley situation, yet another tailings failure has occurred.  This time in Mexico.  That brings the number of failures this year to three:  Duke Energy, Mt Polley, and Cananea.  Just the right number if the probability of failure is one in five thousand. (more…)

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I am told that yesterday’s posting was hard to read.  So rather than write tonight, let me simply post some pictures I took from a public road of tailings facilities closed by the Peruvian regulators.  Not sure how long the gabion baskets will last.

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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?

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