Release: October 7,2020, Stonington, Maine, U.S.A.

Contact : Lindsay Newland Bowker 207 367 5145

Vale is not alone in this and that only their TSF woes makes news belies that their 1/3 of troubled facilities is, by all available data, the same world-wide. Neither the coalition of endorsers of Safety First, nor the GTR admits, or is working on, that.

 That 33 out of 104 Vale TSF’s are at issue viz stability assurance matches my overall estimate in the worlds ~21,000 existing TSF’s. This 1/3 of portfolio estimate was set forth in Dark Shadow’s (Bowker Chambers 2017) and is further confirmed and explicated in WMTF’s yet to be published work on the global tailings inventory and its present state. Many long excerpts of that have been released in emails.

Important for NGO’s and investors to understand that identifying facilities where loss prevention work is needed is not the same as “at immediate risk of failure”.  Everything we know about catastrophic failure says that failure forms and incubates over many years.  The earlier the errors are identified and corrected and acceptable management protocols instituted the lower the ultimate risk of failure from other than random, uncontrollable events.  To say that an estimated 1/3 of the present world portfolio needs corrective intervention to prevent loss from human error is not the same as saying 1/3 are at imminent risk.

For several years, I have repeatedly and publicly posited that as much as 1/3 of the world portfolio falls short of safe standards and have publicly advocated since 2014 that the first priority for loss prevention must be to find and fix or remove those already existing TSF’s that pose a risk of catastrophic failure, that is to say generational, non-remediable public loss.

Here is the slide from my CERES Presentation with the same information presented in my presentations and correspondence with COE and my presentation to UBS in February 2019. ( I have since refined the 18,000 to 21,000 from additional information)

 I hope to finally get my report, “State of World Mine Tailings Portfolio” out in the coming weeks. ( in the works since July) 

That the world tsf portfolio included an unacceptably high proportion of existing (active and not soundly closed) facilities was first identified in Bowker Chambers 2015.  It was obvious in the stats.  It was also obvious as of 2014 that the scale of investment needed to clean up the world portfolio would require some form of government assistance even if the ultimate debt accrued to originally responsible miners as well as investor support.   I wrote about that in the Bowker Associates wordpress as early as 2014.

Since 2014 I have consistently advocated publicly a united objective of finding and fixing at risk dams and prioritizing those posing the greatest near-term risk of harm. I advised COE at the outset that this should be its main aim and offered a very different strategy for investor intervention than that chosen by the COE partners.  I recently shared those ignored recommendations widely.  It focused on a further level of screening of all existing ” high hazard potential facilities” planned for production in the next five years to ensure that proper stability assessment had been applied.  Here is the actual slide from my three invited investor presentations in February 2019.

That is still what is needed. 

To keep holding Vale up as somehow anomalous misses the point.  Safety First misses the point.  The GTR misses the point.

Repeatedly reporting only Vale’s woes brings with it the cloud of Brazils still deeply flawed system of risk identfication and mandated action levels which have nothing whatsoever to do with actual stability analysis. By Brazil’s statutory “check list” standard for action level Brumadinho, weeks before its failure, was rated “not likely to fail.

 Safety First and the GTR  have taken control of the narrative on TSF reform each in streams that do not address or have as a principal aim the fundamental work of finding and fixing at risk TSF’s.  That leaves little space for the truth or the main work actually needed, the work World Mine Tailings Failures has done and is still trying to do.

About lindsaynewlandbowker

Bowker Associates, Science & Research In The Public Interest, is an independent non profit providing self initiated pro bono analysis on key issues with a potential for massive adverse environmental impact . Bowker Associates has been an internationally recognized and cited voice in analysis of the Samarco failure, its consequence, and the possibilties for recovery. In 2017 we partnered with Daveid M. Chambers, a world leader in responsible mining, in our third joint work on the economics of tailings failures. Bowker, L.N.; Chambers, D.M. In the Dark Shadow of the Supercycle Tailings Failure Risk & Public Liability Reach All Time Highs. Environments 2017, 4, 75. A peer reviewed journal published investigation of the cowboy economics of the supercycle and the resulting escalation on the number and magnitude of catastrophic failures. In 2016 we parnered with Dave Chambers in our 2nd joint work together looking at root causes of failures at a conference . Bowker, L.N.; Chambers, D.M. Root Causes of Tailings Management Failures: The Severity of Consequence of Failures Attributed to Overtopping 1915–2015. In Proceedings of the Protections 2016, Fort Collins, CO, USA, 14 June 2016. [Google Scholar] In 2015 Bowker Associates collaborated with geophysicist David M. Chambers to recompile global authoritative accounts of significant TSF failures in recorded history and to analyze these data in the context of global mining economics 1910-2010 ( Risk, Economics and Public Liability of TSF Failures, Bowker/Chambers July 2015) The third annual update of this globally referenced and used compilation was just released at Researchgate. ( In 2014 Bowker Associates commissioned globally respected geophysicist and hydrogeologist Dr. David Chambers to undertake two technical works: (1) development of technical go no go criteria for vetting mine applications tp:// and (2) a case study of Maine's Bald Mountain, an un mined low grade high risk VMS deposit demonstrating the efficacy and accuracy of two risk assessment tools in vetting mine proposals In Maine, Bowker Associates has deeply engaged and been a public voice in the Searsport DCP LPG Tank, The Cianbro proposal for a Private East West Toll Road, JD Irvings rolling pipeline of Bakken crude to its plant in St. John and review of Phase II plans at The Callahan Superfund site in Brooksville, Maine, and Maine's revisitation of mining in statute and regulation... Our only “client”: is always “the pubic interest”. Our model is to focus on only one or two issues at a time so that we have a substantive command of the relevant field as our foundation for ongoing engagement. Our core work is in envirommental risk management, science and technology as well as bringing any available “best practices” models to the fore. The legal and regulatory history/best models are also a major thrust of our work in building and evaluating public policy. Director/Principal Lindsay Newland Bowker, CPCU, ARM is a recognized expert in Environmental Risk Management., Heavy Construction Risk Management and Marine and Transit Risks and has more than 3 decades of engagement in buiding public policy. Appointed by Governor Mario Cuomo to New York State Banking Board (served 1986-1996); President New York Chapter Chartered Property and Casualty Insurers; Environmental Committee, Risk and Insurance Management Society; Director, Convenor/Co-Chair Bermuda Market Briefing "From Captive to Cats" Hamilton Bermuda. Published Articles of Significance The Risk Economics and Public Liability of Tailings Facility Failures, co-authored with David M. Chambers, July 2015 Beyond. Polarization: Superfund Reform in Perspective, Risk & Insurance Managing Risk For Loss Prevention & Cost Control (Jan. 24, 1997). Lead Hazards and Abatement Technologies in Construction: A Risk Management Approach CPCU Journal 1997 Employee Leasing: Liability in Limbo Risk Management June 1 1997 Environmental Audit Privilege and the Public interest Risk & Insurance Managing Risk For Loss Prevention & Cost Control, April 1997 Asbestos:Holes In Abatement Policies Need To Be Plugged, Lloyd’s Environmental Risk International, May 1993 Editor Published Letters Evironmental Risk Management Beware of Facile Policies Like Fetal Protection Business Insurance 1995(?) High Court Review May Increase Sale of Bank Annuities Business Insurances August 8, 1995 Professional Profiles Protecting the Big Apple’s Core Managing Risk For Loss Prevention & Control December 1996 Major Career Highlights First rigorous analysis showing Relationship Between declining ore grades and TSF Failures of increasing consequence ( July 2015) FIrst Documentation that Gentrification Has Same Impacts as Unassisted Displacement from Urban Renewal Sites Direted Court Ordered EIS of FHA Mortgage Scandal Created Nation's First Homeownership Program for Low Income People (SHIP) Created Earliest Geographic Information Systems Using Defense Technology Developed By IBM Designed and Conducted Parallel Census Count to Show Systematic undercount in minority neighborhoods Documented Bias in ISO Territory Rating Plans for Private Passenger Auto Insurance Using ISO's own Rating Techniques Demonstrated Inherent Bias in Mortgage Policies of Banks With Inner City Branches Demonstrated that NY Telephones Plan for Area Code Split To accommodate anticipated cell phone demand was not efficient and would exhaust in 5 years ( which it did) Undertook First Systematic Evaluation of Child Protective Services Caseload Using Multi Variate Analyic Techniques Developed Child Protective Caseload Management and Tracking System (CANTS) and directed implementation in 4 client states including Illinois, Florida and New York Created and Ran Office of Risk Management for NYC DEP the Nations largest Water & Sewer Authority . Designed, Created and Administered Nation's First Owner Controlled Insurance Program (OCIP)for High Risk Tunneling Education Masters NYU Graduate School of Public Administration BSC New School For Social Research Maine Public Schools Deering High School
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