Tailings Management

Disposal of ore processing residues

Summary: Events like the dam failure at the retention basin of the Samarco mine in Brazil almost three years ago once again illustrate the dangers of mining. But that’s not all. The disaster resulted in claims for billions of dollars in compensation and damaged the image of an entire industry. This report reviews the situation of dam safety in mining industry retention basins and shows what alternatives are available for the disposal of ore processing residues.

1‌ Introduction

On November 5th, 2015, a major dam failure with devastating consequences occurred at a retention basin of the Samarco iron ore mine in the state of Minas Gerais in southeastern Brazil. The resultant outflow of tailings slurry buried the village of Bento Rodrigues, located about 8 km below the dam. The flood wave continued on for several hundred kilometers to the mouth of the Rio Doce. 19 people died, about 500 houses were destroyed, several hundred thousand people were cut off from their drinking water supply, flora and fauna were decimated and the coastal ecosystem was...

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