Authors: Coffey, JP; Susic, N

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Coffey, JP & Susic, N 2019, 'Getting back to basics: risk fundamentals applied to the geotechnical engineering of tailings storage facilities', in J Wesseloo (ed.), MGR 2019: Proceedings of the First International Conference on Mining Geomechanical Risk, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 419-428,

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Inherent uncertainty associated with the selection of input parameters to various geotechnical analyses often results in the likelihood of failure being a dominant topic in the discussion of risk associated with geotechnical assets. As a result, embankment failure is the default risk scenario driving ongoing management of tailings storage facilities (TSFs). This commonly applied approach is inefficient as it drives resource intensive TSF management and limits scope for a risk-based approach. However, many TSFs operate with several layers of controls in place. Therefore, assessment of risk with consideration of these controls would promote greater efficiency in TSF management. A fit for purpose approach will be discussed that demonstrates how risk can be utilised as the foundation for the development of a management framework for a single or portfolio of TSFs. This approach focuses on the identification and monitoring of controls, based on the understanding that hazards impact when the controls put in place to manage them fail. It is necessary to build such an approach with the full application of risk principles, which will be introduced by a specialist in corporate risk. Topics covered include a brief history of risk, importance of control effectiveness in scenario selection and risk evaluation and communicating value at risk to drive resource allocation. It is hoped that this discussion and presentation of simple examples allows risk concepts to be better applied to the design and management of geotechnical structures.

Keywords: tailings storage facility, risk, Probability of Failure, controls

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