Mine Tailings Storage: Safety Is No Accident

On the cover

Top photo: The township of Bento Rodriguez. On the 5 November 2015, the Samarco Mineração S.A Fundão tailings dam, containing approximately 55 million m 3 of tailings collapsed. The failure released an estimated 33 million m 3 of tailings, which travelled down a natural waterway first inundating the town of Bento Rodriguez, approximately 8 km from the dam site. The mud and debris continued to move downstream for 650 km along the Rio Doce River, reaching the Atlantic coast 17 days later. Sadly 19 people were killed, including 14 workers at the dam site, and 5 people in the Bento Rodrigues community. Hundreds more people were displaced in towns and cities downstream. Bottom photo: The Stava memorial, Italy. The sculpture depicts the scene that faced rescue workers following the Stava dam failure. The bodies of the men, women and children were found in the mud, with their hands held in front of their faces to protect themselves; they had no chance to escape when a tsunami of mud came down their valley at lunch time on a beautiful sunny day on 19 July 1985. The memorial is a poignant reminder of why safety should be the main priority in mining and that mining should support sustainable development, not destroy lives and livelihoods.

Disclaimer The contents of this report do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of UNEP or contributory organizations. The designations employed and the presentations do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNEP or contributory organiza- tions concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city, com- pany or area or its authority, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. Roche, C., Thygesen, K., Baker, E. (Eds.) 2017. Mine Tailings Storage: Safety Is No Accident. A UNEP Rapid Response Assessment. United Nations Environment Programme and GRID-Arendal, Nairobi and Arendal, www.grida.no ISBN: 978-82-7701-170-7


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