Samarco has a monitoring centre that observes its dams and dikes 24 hours per day. This monitoring work is done by a team of 35 people, assisted by state-of-the-art equipment: five high-precision radar devices, a laser scanner, an accelerometer, a weather station, video cameras and drones. This equipment is part of the emergency plan produced by the company, which even before the accident was already complying with all the measures demanded by legislation.
Tailings dams are inherent to mining, because ore processing generates waste (called tailings), which needs to be stored in decantation ponds. Once a dam has been built, it is very important to start to monitor it. In this way, it is possible to measure the evolution of sediment build-up and evaluate whether the whole process is progressing in line with the original design.
About tailings dams
What are they?
Tailings dams are structures used to deposit solid waste and water generated from ore processing.
What are they for?
Tailings dams are essential to ore processing.
In order to transform iron ore into a concentrated product, the valuable material present in the ore needs to be separated from the rest. This process generally requires the use of water, and the resulting waste is stored in tailings ponds.
How are tailings ponds formed?
They are formed by constructing large dams out of compacted soil, blocks of rock or waste materials. These dams feature waterproofing and drainage mechanisms.
What are tailings?
Tailings are the materials stored in tailings dams and they are largely composed of silica (sand). They are inert, i.e. they do not contain toxic components or any chemical element harmful to health.