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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2020-159
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2020-159
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  04 Jun 2020

04 Jun 2020

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A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Modelling the Brumadinho tailings dam failure, the subsequent loss of life and how it could have been reduced

Darren Lumbroso, Mark Davison, Richard Body, and Gregor Petkovšek Darren Lumbroso et al.
  • HR Wallingford, Howbery Park, Wallingford, Oxfordshire OX10 8BA, UK

Abstract. In recent years the number of tailings dams failures has increased. On 25 January 2019, the Brumadinho tailings dam in Brazil suddenly failed releasing a mudflow over 10 m deep comprising some 10 million m3 of mining waste which killed between 270 and 320 people. This paper details the use of an agent-based model, known as the Life Safety Model (LSM), to estimate the risk to people downstream of the Brumadinho tailings dam and to assess if the number of fatalities could have been reduced if a warning had been received prior to or at time the dam failed. The LSM modelling indicates that even if a warning had been issued as the dam failed the number of fatalities could have been reduced. Agent-based modelling tools such as the LSM can help to inform and improve emergency plans for tailings dams, which will help to reduce the risk posed by them in the future.

Darren Lumbroso et al.

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Darren Lumbroso et al.

Darren Lumbroso et al.

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Short summary
A tailings dam is an earth embankment used to store the waste from mines, known as tailings. In 2019, the Brumadinho tailings dam in Brazil failed releasing a mudflow which killed ~ 300 people. This paper details the use of an agent-based model to estimate the risk to people downstream of this dam. The agent-based model represents each individual person. The modelling indicated that if a warning had been issued as the dam failed the number of fatalities could have been reduced.
A tailings dam is an earth embankment used to store the waste from mines, known as tailings. In...
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