David Brett, Robert Longey, Jiri Herza
The independent expert review panel for the Mount Polley Tailings Storage Facility failure came out strongly recommending changes to the technology of tailings dams in British Columbia (and by inference, world-wide). The Panel had examined the historical risk profile of tailings dams in British Columbia and recommended, amongst other things, that best available technology (BAT) be adopted for tailings disposal. Examples of BAT, described by the panel, included “dry-stacking” of filtered, unsaturated, compacted tailings and reduction in the use of water covers in a closure setting. The recommended technologies would require a major shift in current practice and raises many questions, such as:
– Are these recommendations appropriate in Australia?
– Does this signal the end of the tailings dams as we know them?
– Do the current Australian National Committee on Large Dams Guidelines (ANCOLD) apply to these new BAT technologies?
– If not, is there a role for ANCOLD in setting standards for the future?
This paper discusses the Mt Polley tailings dam failure and searches for answers to these questions. In particular, this paper reviews the background to “dry-stacking’, to explore the implications for the Australian mining industry.
Keywords: Tailings Dam, Dry Stacking, Best Available Technology
Michael Bassett-Foss , David Bouma , Dewi Knappstein
The Wairarapa Water Use Project (WWUP) in the southern North Island, New Zealand, is investigating new water storage schemes involving large dams that will allow the community to make use of the water resources that are currently available, but not necessarily available at the time they are needed. It is estimated that the 12,000 hectares currently irrigated in the Wairarapa could be increased to about 42,000 hectares depending on actual demand. The WWUP provides for a range of possible needs, such as supply of new areas of irrigation, increased reliability for existing irrigation and frost fighting, environmental augmentation of low summer river flows, environmental flushing flows, stock drinking water, power generation, municipal water supply, and recreational use.
WWUP objectives include early engagement of stakeholders, early integration of financial, social, cultural and environmental factors in decision-making, management of uncertainty associated with the preliminary level of investigation and evolving regulatory framework, development of an equitable framework for efficiently comparing options, and balancing long and short-term considerations.
A large number of dam options were identified, storing 3 to 80 million m3 of water, and progressively narrowed to a shortlist of 2 sites through a complex process of concept development, desktop studies, site visits, hydrological analyses, cost estimates and multi-criteria analyses.
The WWUP demonstrates how sustainable new major water storage schemes can be promoted in a highly regulated environment of a developed nation.
Keywords: Dams, water storage, stakeholder engagement, environment, water allocation, multi-criteria analysis
Aida Baharestani, Dominic Kerr
North East Water (NEW) manages two reservoirs in series on Bakers Gully Creek, approximately 1.5km south of Bright in north-east Victoria. Both dams were constructed more than 100 years ago and taken out of service in the 1970s.
The Bakers Gully dams had an unacceptable risk profile according to ANCOLD’s Limit of Tolerability.
As the dams are out of service and have no operational benefit, NEW made the decision to partially decommission the dams.
The objective of the work was to lower the consequence categories of the dams from “High C” to “Low” and increase the spillway capacities according to ANCOLD Guidelines and ultimately reduce the dam safety risks to an acceptable level.
This paper describes the different stages of the project ranging from concept design, community engagement, environmental assessment and detailed design. In particular the paper explores the complexities of balancing in cost and public safety with community and ecological values.
Keywords: Dam decommissioning, Community engagement, Severity of damage and loss
P C Blersch, W van Wyk , R Steenkamp
Construction of the partially completed Calueque Dam on the Cunene River in Angola was abandoned in 1976 due to the hostilities in Angola. In 1988 the dam was bombed, causing significant damage to the bridge deck, other structures and equipment. Work to complete and rehabilitate the dam commenced in late 2012 and included major earthworks, extensive concrete repairs and refurbishment and installation of mechanical equipment, including ten spillway radial gates and two outlet gates with lifting equipment, emergency gates and cranes, including electrical and control systems. A number of challenges were encountered in planning and executing the project but were overcome largely as a result of detailed historical project information having been retained well beyond the norm and through the involvement of a key member of the original project team in the current project.
Keywords: Dam rehabilitation, radial gates, zoned earthfill embankment
This paper discusses the common environmental issues and requirements project lenders have when financing hydropower dam projects in developing countries. The environmental specialist’s role, as part of the Lender’s Technical Advisor team, is discussed throughout the main phases of project finance (credit approval, financial close, lending/construction and loan repayment/operation). Further, how environmental issues are reviewed and monitored, thereby minimising reputational risks to the lenders are outlined.
Lenders typically consider hydropower dam financing, especially reservoir schemes, as high reputational risk loans. Finance is usually syndicated and although most international lenders are Equator Principles signatories or use the International Financing Corporations (IFC) Performance Standards, some lenders have additional environmental guidelines and requirements to enable financing. These differences are discussed.
Common environmental concerns include loss of habitat of endangered and/or threatened species, changes to river flows, erosion and sediment control during construction, and the minimisation and disposal of project wastes.
These issues are discussed drawing on the author’s experience in monitoring environmental issues of hydropower projects in Asia Pacific and Africa, including both smaller run-of-river schemes and larger storage reservoir projects.
Keywords: Environment, impacts, project financing, concerns, lenders, lenders technical advisor.
Richard Herweynen, Tim Griggs, Alan White
The Ministry of Public Utilities, Sarawak, Malaysia used an independent dam safety consultant to advise them on whether the Murum Dam was ready for impoundment. They were looking for a holistic assessment of the dam from a dam safety perspective. As a result, a risk framework was adopted to identify the key issues that needed to be addressed prior to impoundment of the Murum Dam. The process adopted which is presented in this paper, was transparent and defensible; and provided a reasoned approach for which items must be completed prior to the commencement of impoundment. As a result effort was focused on the key activities required prior to impoundment – whether this was the completion of specific works, the availability of key instrumentation to monitor the dams performance, the availability and operation of key dam safety systems, or the appropriate emergency preparedness should a dam safety incident occur during first filling. This systematic process based on a risk based approach, was a useful method of determining the dam’s readiness for impoundment, and provided an excellent way of communicating the importance of activities to the key stakeholders. The authors believe that this method is transferable to other dam projects, for an assessment of a dam’s readiness for impoundment.
Keywords: Dam safety, risk, impoundment, reservoir filling.