In the Wake of the Mount Polley Mine Tailings Breach: Tailings Dam Design, Innovation, and Practice Changes

by Harvey N. Mcleod, P.Eng., vice president of strategic marketing and principal at Klohn Crippen Berger in Vancouver, BC, Canada,,

Serial Information: Geo-Strata —Geo Institute of ASCE, 2020, Vol. 24, Issue 3, Pg. 54-59

Document Type: Feature article

Abstract: The Mount Polley tailings dam in British Columbia (BC), Canada, failed in 2014, spilling approximately 21 million m3 of water and tailings (estimated as approximately 50/50 water and tailings) into Hazeltine Creek, Polley Lake, and Quesnel Lake. In January 2015, the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) issued a report by the Independent Review Panel (Panel) that assessed the failure. At the same time, it also launched a separate investigation, led by the chief inspector of mines, into the root cause of the problem, the failure mechanism, and the operational and governance aspects that contributed to the failure. This report was issued in November 2015.

Subject Headings: Mine wastes | Failure analysis | Dams | Innovation | Water management | Lakes | Dam failures | Rivers and streams | Canada | British Columbia


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