BHP Plans to Centralize Dam Management After Samarco Disaster

  • Company outlines steps after review of Samarco dam rupture
  • BHP says it will also apply Canadian safety-review process

BHP Billiton Ltd. said it will centralize dam management and apply the industry’s most rigorous evaluation process at its mines following a company review in the wake of a disaster last year in Brazil.

The newly created “dam-management function” will bring specialists in-house, the Melbourne-based company said in a statement. BHP also said it will apply the safety-assessment process developed by the Canadian Dam Association. 

The appraisal was separate from an audit released Monday by a panel looking into the causes of the rupture at the Samarco mine, a joint venture between BHP and Vale SA. That inquiry determined that cracks in 2014 showed rising saturation and dam height made drainage less effective, panel chairman Norbert Morgenstern said.

“In the wake of this event, we have separately undertaken a comprehensive review of our significant dams, which has confirmed that those dams are stable,” Dean Dalla Valle, BHP’s chief commercial officer, said in the statement. “We will take a number of actions to further enhance risk management at these facilities.”

BHP said it also contributed to a review initialed by the International Council on Mining and Metals that will provide the industry with guidance to better manage risks of tailings dams.

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