Tailings dam safety inventory and semiquantitative risk analysis

About this project

completion date

Seeking to inform future decision making related to risk mitigation and environmental stewardship, Nutrien retained Barr to complete a system inventory and semiquantitative risk analysis (SQRA) for its more than 100 earthen dike segments across six potash mines in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Barr first completed an inventory of each dike noting their differing history, physical characteristics, operations, and failure consequences. With established background, Barr then developed a SQRA system to analyze fine tailings and brine containment dikes. Risk for each tailings segment was identified as the product of the relative probability, relative consequence, and uncertainty. A recommended risk response level was determined for various ranges of risk score to allow prioritization of resources and inform recommended actions for ongoing analysis, monitoring, inspections, and other activities to manage the risk associated with each dike. These recommendations consider current Nutrien practices, industry guidelines, and facility approvals to operate.

Inventory and results of the SQRA were then paired with Nutrien’s tailings management objectives to identify dike segments that were priorities for further investigation or in need of analysis or improvements to conform with current risk management approaches. With this SQRA, Nutrien can prioritize the implementation of resources and focused improvements to continue alignment with regulatory requirements and internal company objectives.

Read the May 2022 issue of Mining Engineering Magazine to learn more about this project.

Key team members

Art Kalmes

Vice President
Senior Civil Engineer

Billy Dehler

Senior Geotechnical Engineer

Related operations projects

Landfill-gas monitoring at remediated dump to support brownfield redevelopment
Air dispersion modeling for distributed-generation plant
Landscape master plan for watershed district
O&M manual for green-infrastructure stormwater BMPs
Design and prioritization of spillway gate repairs
Phase I ESA for copper-nickel project
Ore transportation study
Dry-stack tailings management
Engineering design for HDD pipeline replacement under highway
Permitting, environmental assessment, and design for copper-nickel mine
Tailings basin expansion and closure options
Incident energy and arc flash hazard analyses of three facilities
Natural-resources management plan for suburban park
Feasibility design and inspections of an urban stormwater-management tunnel
Dam safety consultations for SaskPower
Geotechnical investigation and design for expansion of ancient gold mine
Scoping study to increase magnetite-concentrate production capacity
Mine closure and reclamation
Monitoring of constructed wetland for groundwater remediation
Landslide stabilization design for an underground coal mine
Stormwater storage facility for major Minneapolis interstate artery
Geologic modeling and mine-plan development for aggregate quarries
Resource estimates for neodymium-rich rare-earth-element exploration project
Water-quality and sediment-dredging study to restore a phosphorus-impaired lake
Waste-gas scrubber design engineering for taconite pellet plant
EMIS implementation and related assistance
Inspection and repair of urban stormwater tunnels
Upgrades and expansion for silica-sand wet plant
Reclamation of legacy tailings site
Bridge movement monitoring
Engineering services for frac-sand operation
Engine compliance tool update
Environmental review and prefeasibility design for planned uranium mine
Natural resources master plan
Embankment stabilization along Highway 73
Flood forecast mapping for city's emergency response and planning efforts
Air-quality permitting and compliance support at pipeline terminals
Environmental permitting and compliance support at terminals
Improvements to municipal flood-risk-protection system
Monitoring and maintenance of remediation system at wood-treating site
Groundwater-surface water study of McKenna Lake
Highway 55 storm-tunnel inspection
Highwall stability assessment
Mine remediation and reclamation
Infrastructure inspection program for Minnesota watershed district
GHG compliance monitoring for oil sands facility
Air-quality-permitting support for refinery assets
Whitewater State Park stream restoration
Hennepin County sustainable landscape guidelines
Tailings-management area design and construction
Spillway design for iron-ore-mining and mineral-processing facility
Water quality and ecological improvements to an urban lake
Developing health assessment tools for wind-turbine towers and foundations
Hydrology and hydraulic modeling of a tunnel system
Environmental site assessments for future site of mining and processing facility
Concept-level design of wastewater discharge option
Vapor-mitigation implementation and maintenance at business center
Environmental review and permitting for natural-gas-distribution projects
Minnehaha Park lower glen restoration
Resource assessment and permitting assistance for industrial sands facility
Engineering services for industrial chemicals mine and processing facility
Trona-mining production optimization
Design of an LED lighting system for a downtown streetscape
Fast-track realignment of a storm sewer
Geotechnical assistance for mine expansion at Julienne Lake
Municipal drinking-water wellhouse evaluation and design
Restoration of trout habitat in Vermilion River
Compliance, resource, and process evaluations for potential mining sites
Remedial investigation, negotiation, and design for Superfund site
Stormwater-development reviews for an urban watershed district
Groundwater modeling for water-supply wellfield expansion
Structural and electrical engineering for coal-dryer load-out improvements
Environmental review for natural gas pipelines
Poplar Bluff substation upgrade
Transmission line upgrades for reliable power delivery
Preclassification system feasibility study, design, and construction support
arc-flash analysis at Coal Creek Station
Willow River Dam rock arch rapids design services
Geotechnical highwall assessment at Bald Mountain
Above-ground tailings management and mine backfill
Permitting assistance for partial repowering of wind facility
Environmental review and permitting for windfarm repowering
Air-quality services for steel company
Design for spillway replacement at Bond Falls Dam
Hastings levee certification
Analysis of microbial ecology in selenium bioreactor
Statistical analysis of coal-silo vibrations
Upgrades to mineral processing plant
Calculating stormwater fees via remote-sensing technology
Aggregate resource estimate along proposed pipeline routes
Gate upgrade at Island Lake Dam
Acid-generating rock identification and mitigation
Blaine water treatment plant 4
Permitting and nondegradation services for sugar-beet facility
Cathodic protection design for pipeline projects
Grassy Point and Kingsbury Bay habitat restoration
Engineering and design for the rehabilitation of Karey Dam
Park and water-feature evaluation and renovation
Rock-fall protections at Interstate State Park
Carbon-evaluation services for new mining facilities
Engineering services for solution mine
Air permitting assistance for manufacturing coating facility
Process and plant design for potash mine
NEPA support for coal mine expansion
Redesign and optimization of crystallizer piping
Permitting and field review for natural gas pipeline replacement
Multi-phase levee alterations for the City of Des Moines, Iowa
Water discharge permitting for copper-nickel mine
Closure and reclamation support for a legacy metals mine
Third-party dam safety review of tailings-storage facility
Tailings facility dam safety review