This is the first in a series of articles intended to share some of the critical control measures that were used at the Bingham Canyon Mine to keep people safe from the largest mining highwall failure in history – the massive Manefay slide. Critical control measures are the equipment, systems, procedures, and policies that an organization uses to prevent injuries and death. The hope is that by sharing the critical control measures from actual situations (like the Manefay), that others can use the same methods to keep people safe.
The Manefay happened on April 10th of 2013, when 144 million tons of material literally exploded out the highwall and traveled nearly 1 ½ miles – filling the bottom of the pit with 600 feet of debris. This failure happened in two episodes, each taking just 90 seconds from start to finish. The failure destroyed equipment and severely damaged the mine – but there were no injuries or fatalities because the mine had already been evacuated.
The first critical control that kept people safe during the Manefay is that Kennecott Utah Copper understood that highwall failures were the single greatest risk to people at the mine. This was based on their experience of having literally hundreds of much smaller failures over the mines 107-year history. Because they understood this risk, they invested in 10 different methods to monitor the highwalls and predict potential failures. The mine considered these methods as levels of protection so each is a critical control method and included:
- IBIS Slope Stability Radar
- GroundProbe Radar
- Geotechnical Hazard Training
- Routine, Documented Inspections
- Prism Network
- Time Domain Reflectometry
- Microseismic Monitoring
- Geographic Information System Data Display
After the Manefay, Bingham Canyon added two additional systems that included a global positioning prism system and downhole inclinometers.
Because of the monitoring and the skills of the geotechnical team, the Manefay was predicted nearly two months before it actually occurred. This allowed the mine to prepare for the eventual failure by keeping people informed, moving buildings/infrastructure, implementing a response plan and ultimately evacuating the mine before the highwall failure.
Finding and predicting the Manefay took a combination of tremendously high-tech radar systems as well as human field observations to be successful. Relying on just one method or even two monitoring systems may not have provided the information to keep people safe. More detail will be given on individual methods in the future.
Special thanks to Kennecott Utah Copper and Rio Tinto for being willing to let me use their photos and share the critical controls and other learnings in my book “Rise to the Occasion – Lessons from the Bingham Canyon Manefay Slide”. Their willingness to let others learn from the Manefay is impressive.
In future articles, I will take more examples from the book about these and other critical control methods that were used before, during and after the Manefay. If you want to learn more, please follow me on LindedIn or go to my website risetotheoccasion.net.
If you believe it is important to share critical control measures such as these, consider liking or sharing this article, or better yet, share some of your critical control experiences in the comments.
Latest posts by Brad Ross (see all)
- Sharing Critical Control Measures #3 – Geotechnical Monitoring Methods - June 9, 2017
- Sharing Critical Control Measures #2 Independent Experts, Black Hats and Sharing Learnings - March 30, 2017
- Sharing Critical Control Measures #1 Knowing the Greatest Risk - March 14, 2017
- Rise To The Occasion Video - February 11, 2017
- Lessons from the Bingham Canyon Manefay Slide - January 13, 2017