Michael Ashley, John Phillips
New guidance and publications relating to tailings dams have been released recently by many jurisdictions across the world as an initial response to recent, well-documented, catastrophic tailings dam failures. The application of new guidelines retrospectively to existing tailings projects can introduce complex challenges, especially for sites with a long and often not well documented history. Challenges can be difficult to overcome while balancing time, cost and risk objectives.
This paper explores the impacts of changes between the 2012 and 2019 revisions of the ANCOLD Guidelines on Tailings Dams and potential implications for existing facilities.
The most significant update between the 2012 and 2019 revisions of the guidelines relating to design practices is the additional detail and guidance on seismic stability analyses and static liquefaction. Guidance on the application of new guidelines for tailings dam designers, owners and regulators is required to provide a consistent approach to manage the risk.
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Hench Wang, Peter Hill, Sam Banzi, Muhammad Hameed
Dam owners can often struggle to demonstrate the dam safety risk benefits that can be achieved through non-structural risk reduction measures, such as adoption of smart technological solutions that improve the timeliness and quality of decision making. WaterNSW collaborated with HARC to develop a novel way of demonstrating benefits from improved data management. This paper discusses the use of HEC-LifeSim to demonstrate the reduction in life safety risk from improved monitoring through DamGuard for a case study dam in Sydney. DamGuard is a real-time dam safety monitoring system implemented by WaterNSW. This case study was the first time in Australia where a simulation model such as HEC-LifeSim was applied to quantify the life safety risk benefits pre and post the implementation of DamGuard. The implementation of DamGuard to the sample dam was estimated to reduce the life safety risk by 15%.
Richard M Robinson, Siraj Perera, Gaye Francis
Due diligence has become endemic in Australian legislation and in case law, to the point that it has become, in the philosopher Immanuel Kant’s terms, a categorical imperative. That is, our lawmakers seem to have decided that due diligence is universal in its application and creates a moral justification for action. This also means the converse, that failure to act demands sanction against the failed decision maker.
This applies to dam safety management which represents the archetypical high consequence – low likelihood event. It is now essential to have positively demonstrated safety due diligence in a way that can withstand post-event judicial scrutiny. Presently the only way this can be done is by using the notion of criticality and precaution, not hazard and risk. The test is not that of risk acceptability (as low as reasonably practicable or ALARP), rather it is that no further reasonably practicable precautions (so far as is reasonably practicable or SFAIRP) are available, and that what results is not prohibitively dangerous.
This paper will document the difference between the two approaches and how to positively demonstrate safety due diligence. It also discusses the definition of ALARP as stated in ANCOLD’s Guidelines on Risk Assessment 2003 and the relevance of the safety case principle for dam safety management.
Neeta Arora, Prashant Agrawal, Yogendra Deva, Ravi Kumar
The tectono-lithologic complexities and the accompanying extreme mass wasting processes make the Himalaya a difficult terrain for river valley development projects envisaging dams and other diversion structures. Besides exceptionally thick riverbed deposits leading to management of deep foundations, abutting the dams often poses challenges in view of difficult ground conditions. The paper looks at three scenarios where the presence of highly decomposed strata, slumped mass and unconsolidated riverbed material led to serious problems in abutting the dams and invariably delayed the project completion. The design approach to special abutment issues is discussed in the light of investigations, explorations, laboratory and field tests, etc. In conclusion, while dependable engineering geological mapping and assessment is considered the backbone, innovative investigations and engineering play crucial role in successful implementation of projects.
Paul Somerville, Andreas Skarlatoudis, Jeff Bayless, Polly Guan
The 2019 ANCOLD seismic guidelines state that “A hazard assessment should be conducted for earthquake magnitudes Mw 5 and above. However, under certain circumstances, smaller magnitude earthquakes may form the lower limit. With masonry dams, slab and buttress dams, older concrete dams, and structural concrete components of dams, Mw 4 earthquake magnitudes should form the lower limit.” However, when using probabilistic Uniform Hazard Spectra (UHS) with Mmin less than 5.0 per the 2019 ANCOLD Guidelines, the hazard will be overestimated unless Conditional Mean Spectra (CMS) are used to represent the ground motions. As described by Somerville et al. (2015), use of the UHS can significantly overestimate the seismic hazard levels presented by individual earthquake scenarios because the UHS envelopes the ground motions from multiple earthquake scenarios in one spectrum. This overestimation is especially true of the ground motions from small magnitude earthquake scenarios. The probabilistic UHS may have large short period ground motions with contributions from a range of scenario earthquakes, but if the UHS is used as the design spectrum, these ground motions will often be represented by earthquake scenarios having inappropriately large magnitudes, long durations, and high long period ground motion levels. As a result, these design ground motions have the potential to overestimate the response of the structure under consideration. By using CMS spectra and time histories, the large probabilistic peak accelerations, predominantly from small earthquakes, are better represented by earthquakes having appropriately small magnitudes, short durations, and lower long period ground motion levels, yielding more realistic estimates of the response of the structure.
James Thorp, Ryan Singh, Jiri Herza
Responsible management and operation of tailings and water storage facilities comprises a series of activities and projects that must be delivered within the commercial realities of the organisation and operation context of the facility owner. All projects are constrained by several variables, which are commonly represented by the Project Management Triangle of Scope, Time, and Cost. These variables are often finite and mutually exclusive, and delivery of the required outcome is accomplished by successfully managing each variable. The activities (variables) associated with the long-term dam safety are sometimes omitted to meet the immediate project requirements. In addition, the commercial realities, such as a selected project delivery model, can have a significant impact on dam safety risks through the allocation of risk, ability of the key decision makers, and the undue commercial pressures applied by each project delivery model. This paper presents several case studies where the project and commercial realities have led to decision making that impacted dam safety and increased the risk presented by the storage facility. While the immediate impact of these decisions may appear to be minimal, all stages of a tailings or water storage facility’s life span are impacted. This paper presents learnt lessons with the aim to prompt both owners and consultants to reconsider their commercial processes and project delivery strategies and limit unforeseen risks to the safety of tailings or water dams.