AdvisorPoulton, Mary M.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractTailings storage facilities (TSFs) and conventional water retaining dams are the largest manmade structures on Earth. Statistics show that TSFs are more likely to fail than water retaining dams.Recent catastrophic failures of TSFs have led to the loss of lives (Germano mine, Brazil), environmental damage (Mount Polley, Canada), contamination of drinking water (Baia Mare, Romania), and the destruction of property (Kingston Fossil Plant, USA). As the scale of mining increases, TSFs increase in height and volume, therefore increasing the consequence of failure. To help mitigate risk associated with large TSFs mining companies empanel expert groups to review operations of TSFs and conduct regular visual inspections. In the US the Mine Safety and Health Administration has regulatory responsibility for the safety of TSFs. As population centers expand nearer to existing and proposed TSFs, the public requires assurance of the integrity of these structures. A pro-active approach to public safety is more desirable than a post-mortem analysis after a major failure. We have examined both the regulatory practices, the industry practices, and public data on TSFs in Arizona. In this thesis paper we address inadequacies of the official government records on TSFs in the two largest publicly accessible databases of dams inthe US – the National Inventory of Dams (NID), and the National Performance of Dams Program (NPDP). Both databases contain numerous errors and omissions, including descriptions and geographic coordinates of TSFs that are inaccurate by many kilometers. Several large TSFs in Arizona are not included in either database.We address these shortcomings with a pilot project for Arizona that demonstrates recording accurate information in a database is neither expensive nor onerous, communicating best practices for operation can help alleviate community concerns, and continuous monitoring technology can resolve shortcomings with visual inspections.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Mining Geological & Geophysical Engineering