Email us - firstname.lastname@example.org
National and international guidelines use a consequence category framework for selection of design parameters, loading conditions and surveillance requirements. Tailings dams are frequently assigned high dam break consequence categories due to the potential for loss of life, significant impact on environment and damage assets and infrastructure combined with the potential high damage to reputation of the owner.
Mining companies often choose different approaches and accept comparatively higher risks in the design of other mining infrastructure such as pits, waste dumps and process plants even though the consequences and impact for the mine may be similar to those from a dam failure. Recent, highly publicised failures of tailings dams shifted the focus of the mining companies and regulators and have brought more stringent design requirements for tailings dams.Many global mining companies are implementing internal design standards with the design requirements sometimes exceeding the requirement of the national regulators or international guidelines.
This paper discusses the current engineering practice in tailings dam design in the context of other mining infrastructure, examines the key principles in the selection of design loads and acceptable margins of safety and suggests potential improvements for the design and operation of tailings dams.