Australia: BHP reveals that four dams built in Australia pose extreme risk for catastrophic collapse

Author: Hamish Hastie, The Sydney Morning Herald, Published on: 10 June 2019

"BHP reveals four Australian tailings dams pose 'extreme' risks", 7 June 2019

BHP has revealed that four of the dams it has built in Australia to store mining waste carry the highest possible risk classification under global standards, meaning any collapse of them would be catastrophic.

...[T]he miner told investors 32 of its 67 'tailing' dams around the world...hold sometimes dangerous mining by-products were 'high risk' or worse under Canadian Dam Association dam safety classifications.

...Extreme risk, the worst of CDA's classifications, means the potential loss of life exceeded 100 people and there would be major environmental, cultural, infrastructure and economic damage.

Australia is home to four of BHP's five extreme risk dams....

...The taskforce was established in April and is headed by BHP's former copper division health and safety boss Matthew Currie.

..."The taskforce will be accountable for further enhancing our focus on tailings including the continued improvement and assurance for BHP's global tailings storage facilities, progressing our technology efforts and leading ongoing participation in the setting of new international tailings management standards," he said.

...The company has conducted two reviews of its dams since 2016 and found "no immediate dam integrity concerns", but it is taking precautions.

...A BHP spokeswoman said..."[t]he structural integrity of the tailings dam wall at Whaleback was independently verified and found to meet international safety standards at the last comprehensive dam inspection in October 2018," she said.

Other major miners such as South 32 and Rio Tinto have also announced their intention to ensure the safety of tailings dams at their operations....

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Related companies: BHP Billiton