Authors: Porter, M; Lato, M; Quinn, P; Whittall, J

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Porter, M, Lato, M, Quinn, P & Whittall, J 2019, 'Challenges with use of risk matrices for geohazard risk management for resource development projects', in J Wesseloo (ed.), MGR 2019: Proceedings of the First International Conference on Mining Geomechanical Risk, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 71-84,

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Geohazards comprise a subgroup of natural hazards associated with geotechnical, hydrotechnical, tectonic, snow and ice, and geochemical processes that can pose a threat to worker and public safety, asset integrity, and asset management lifecycle cost. Like for most types of threats, the risks from geohazards can be assessed qualitatively or quantitatively and used to inform a geohazard management program. Most mining companies use risk matrices to aid in the assessment, prioritisation, communication and management of corporate risks. These matrices use standardised descriptions of likelihood and consequence to help users assess risks of negative outcomes to health, safety, the environment, assets, and reputation, and are tailored to each organisation’s types of risk exposure and level of risk tolerance. Geohazards and related geotechnical failures can represent low-probability, high-consequence events that plot in the highest risk zones of most corporate risk matrices. Variability in spatial and temporal probabilities for people and infrastructure exposed to geohazards can have a large influence on risk exposure, and this can be challenging to assess and communicate effectively with some risk matrices. Risk is scale-dependent: the business risk due to rockfall from a single slope along a mine access road is vastly different than the total risk due to rockfalls from all slopes along that road, yet guidance is often missing on how the risks from these scenarios should be plotted on a risk matrix. These and other pitfalls associated with use of corporate risk matrices for informed geohazard management are explored.

Keywords: geotechnical, geohazard, risk matrix, risk assessment, risk communication

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