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Review of tailings dam safety inspections

British Columbia Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) | Canada | 2014–ongoing

60

permitted mines

98

tailings facilities inspected for dam safety

Challenges

  • According to orders by the Chief Inspector of Mines 2014, the owner, agent, or managers responsible for tailings dams are required to expedite and complete annual dam safety inspections (DSI).
  • A dam’s consequence classification is based on the potential impact to population, environment, cultural values, and infrastructure should it fail. It is set according to the Canadian Dam Association (CDA) dam safety guidelines.
  • Under the order, mines with high, very high, or extreme consequence classifications will be required to update and test their emergency preparedness and response plans, and submit an up-to-date dam-break inundation study.

Solutions

  • Hatch helped review all documents submitted to fulfill the described Chief Inspector’s orders to ensure consistency and compliance.
  • A First Nations engagement plan was developed, consultations with First Nations coordinated, and 15 meetings with 30 First Nations chiefs and councils facilitated to discuss DSI results for mines in their traditional territories.
  • Results of high-level reviews, including background information, methodology, and analyses of compiled data, were summarized in a synthesis report.

Highlights

  • High-level technical reviews of submitted documents were carried out for each tailings facility in accordance with CDA dam safety guidelines, the Ministry’s dam safety inspection guidelines, and industry-accepted engineering practices by licensed professional engineers in the province of British Columbia.
  • Hatch prepared a report that summarized the activities undertaken as part of the contract mandate and recommendations for streamlining future DSI reviews. This included a framework for receipt of reports, document file management, technical review, and management of public and First Nations engagement.
  • Hatch was also retained by MEM to review 2015 DSIs and 2015 letters of assurance on adequacy of foundations, freeboards, and filter compatibility.

Project numbers

60 permitted mines
15 meetings with 30 First Nations chiefs and councils

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