Risk-Informed Decision-Making (RIDM) is a term used in dam safety to refer to decisions made taking into account risk estimates as well as other contributing factors such as confidence in the risk estimates, risk uncertainty, deterministic analyses, overall dam safety, as well as other local or regional considerations. The risk estimate is then used to help make decisions regarding dam safety. Using RIDM has many benefits when it comes to dam safety. It increases the understanding of the safety of the dam by identifying vulnerabilities and areas that need improvement that were perhaps not identified by other standard methods. While risk is not the only contributing factor, it does play a vital role in influencing final decisions.
So how does RIDM apply to tailings management? First, it helps to understand what tailings dams are and what they do. Tailings dams are embankments constructed near mines with the intention of storing mining waste in either liquid or solid form. Tailings dams are designed to be permanent structures, and the material they contain is usually highly toxic and/or potentially radioactive. Therefore, the containment of these dams should be of the highest safety priority. Minimizing the risk of tailings dam
s failures is one of the greatest challenges in the mining industry. When approaching the topic of tailings management, it is important that we look at it from a Risk-Informed Decision Making or RIDM approach.
The mining industry has made great strides in integrating environmental and social governance (ESG) into key business decisions in recent years. Risks posed by its waste disposal sites, in particular tailings storage facilities (TSFs), are being looked at more and more as they can potentially pose significant societal consequences. Mining companies should be urged to fully understand the social, human, environmental, and reputational consequences of dam failures. Studies tend to focus on the technical and engineering reasons for dam failures, but research is still lacking on how organizational or human error contributes to dam failure. Following the Brumadinho tailings disaster in Brazil, a new standard has been adopted which introduces the concept of zero harm to people and the environment. Most major mining companies have made the effort to comply with the requirements of this standard within three years in an effort to avoid other major disasters.
A comprehensive view of all the data collected at a tailings dam is vital to risk-informed decision making. Having the right data at your fingertips allows one to predict potential flaws in a mine and identify areas that may need improvement, thus preventing potential future disasters.
Reliable data is the first step to making better, safer decisions. The SourceOne® Enterprise Knowledge Performance System (EKPS) allows you to inspect your data and gain valuable insights. Knowing the state of your mine leads to proper maintenance, which in turn can prevent disasters such as tailings dam failures that could potentially leak toxic material, causing fatalities and serious long-term environmental effects.
There is no doubt that dam failings are preventable. Still, every tailings dam needs a comprehensive approach to ensure its safety. SourceOne EKPS helps mining companies improve processes and manage risk. Our collaborative solution revolutionizes data connectivity and data management. By consolidating data in one place, we provide a more cohesive and accurate picture of your mining operations, resulting in reduced risk and better productivity.
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