Ecuador introduces stricter dam regulations

Ecuador has introduced a number of new and stricter tailings dams guidelines for the country’s medium and large mines in a move to minimise the risk of repeating an event like the Brumadinho dam collapse in Brazil in early 2019.
Ecuador introduces stricter dam regulations Ecuador introduces stricter dam regulations Ecuador introduces stricter dam regulations Ecuador introduces stricter dam regulations Ecuador introduces stricter dam regulations

The Brumadinho dam collapse in 2019 in Brazil killed nearly 300

The country's Ministry of Energy and Non-Renewable Natural Resources (MERNNR), has released "Instruction for the Approval of Design Projects, Construction, Operation and Maintenance of Relaves (tailings) Tanks for Median and Large Mining". 

It implements technical criteria as well as administrative processes for not just the design and construction, but also the operation and maintenance of new tailings storage facilities.

A crucial measure is the standardizing the construction method to be only downstream, with the application of the upstream construction method now prohibited. Other measures include the provision that the supernatant water pool of a facility now should be kept as far away as possinble from the dam or retaining wall in order to avoid saturation and that the inner surface of the tank shall prevent infiltration outside the implantation area.

In addition, the mine owner must use materials with geomechanical characteristics based on laboratory tests for the construction of the dam or retaining wall.

During construction, operation and maintenance, a mining owner must carry out permanent supervision of all structures and adjoining works of the relapse tank; internal and external audits shall be carried out yearly.

The minimum requirements for a new project will include a system of sonic and visual monitoring to enable early warnings throughout the tank management cycle, the implementation of a quality management system, construction manuals, operation and maintenance of the relay tank, as well as an emergency preparedness and response plan.

Ecuador's mining operators will have 18 months to come into compliance with the new rules.

The entire outline of rules can be viewed here.