Nov 8th, 2022 @ 7 pm ET: Ottawa SYP Water Talk – Dam Breach Assessment in the Mining Industry with Isabelle Cheff

 In Archived ON, Archived Online, Archived SYP Event

Presentation Title: Dam Breach Assessment in the Mining Industry

Speaker: Isabelle Cheff


Dam failures have the potential to be devastating events, both in terms of loss of life and environmental impact. In recent years, dams withholding mine waste (tailings and other industrial by-products) have caused loss of life and million dollars in damages and clean-up efforts. The Jagersfontein dam collapse resulted in one death and 40 injuries. The 2019 Brumadinho dam failure caused 270 fatalities and upward of 12 million cubic meters of tailings were released into the environment. Closer to home, the 2014 Mount Polley event released 17 million cubic meters of water and 8 million cubic meters of tailings.

In Canada, dam owners must undertake dam breach assessments (DBAs) to determine the potential downstream inundation and prepare emergency plans. The new 2021 technical bulletin, Tailings Dam Breach Analysis by the Canadian Dam Association (CDA), describes the methods to use for such analysis. This talk will present an overview of how DBAs are done in the mining industry from the quantification of tailing volume release, to the creation of a hydrograph and downstream flood modelling. The limitations of the current practices and the 2021 CDA guidance documents will be discussed.