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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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We have just finished the InfoMine Conference on geosynthetics in mining.  I think it was a success although I had better await the evaluation forms before coming to definitive conclusions. The proceedings will be available through the InfoMine e-Store at this link.  In my opinion, this is a magnificent collection of papers on a topic that has long cried for detailed, focussed attention. For the use of geosynthetics in mining is different to the use of geosynthetics in landfills and other civil engineering application.  The mining projects that involve the use of geosynthetics are orders of magnitude larger than any other category of projects.  The challenges are greater: there are few precedents; there are no substantive regulations; and the consequences of use and misuse are greater. Continue Reading »

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. Continue Reading »

A few notes on things heard recently about Mt Polley.  I was told this is all public knowledge, although I have not read any of it on the web. Continue Reading »

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I write this fifty percent in jest, fifty percent in earnest, fifty percent with tounge in cheek, and fifty percent as a concerned citizen.  You decide which is which in what follows, for I cannot decide.  After the failure of the Bafokeng tailings facility, we built a dike across the failed area and picked up the tailings on the mine property.  We put these picked-up tailings back in the slimes dam.  Then we built a rockfill dike with an upstream filter across the valley just at the edge of the mine property.  Thus any tailings we did not pick up were washed down to the dike and were in due course picked up and put back in the slimes dam.  In due course, they filled in the failure volume with new tailings as the mine continued production. Continue Reading »

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Spent today stuffing the bags to be handed to the over 150 delegates to next week’s conference here in Vancouver on Geosynthetics Mining Solutions 2014.   I also went through the volume of proceedings.  We have some amazingly interesting papers on aspects of geosynthetics use in mining new to me.  There is still time to join us on Tuesday if you push hard. Continue Reading »

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Monday night we went to the tents at Bard on the Beach to see Shakespeare’s Opera presented by students from the University of British Columbia. First a tail-gate meal in amongst the trees of chicken, bread, and wine.  Just the right stuff to put you in the mood for opera.  And we were not disappointed. The students are all magnificent singers and we revel in the thought that there is such talent out there to take the place of older singers.  Opera proceeds with confidence into the future when you hear these young singers. Continue Reading »

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