Dozens of Rio tailings dams would be high hazards if they failed – by Darren Gray (Sydney Morning Herald – June 12, 2019)

Dozens of Rio Tinto tailings dams around the world would generate a “high” hazard if they were to fail, according to an audit of the global miner’s tailings dams.

The audit, released late on Wednesday, reveals just over 40 of Rio Tinto’s tailings storage facilities are deemed to have at least a “high” hazard consequence in the event of a failure, including three that were assigned a “very high” rating.

The three deemed “very high” are all outside of Australia, with one in Chile, one in Brazil and the other in Canada. Mining companies have faced intense scrutiny of their approach to tailings dams after the devastating collapse of a dam in January at Vale’s Brumadinho iron ore mine in Brazil.

The latest figures from Brazil on the disaster reveal a death toll of 245 people, with 25 people still listed as missing. That disaster followed an earlier catastrophic failure of a tailings dam at Samarco at a site managed by a joint venture between Vale and BHP Group in 2015.

Rio Tinto’s disclosures follows similar announcements from other large miners including BHP Group, Glencore and South32. Rio Tinto stated that none of its tailings storage facilities had ever been found to be unstable and that none had ever experienced notable stability concerns, according to independent engineering assessments.

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