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Case study

Tailings Storage Dam Seismic Assessment

Mining is one of the backbones of the Philippines economy. RDCL has a long history of geotechnical engineering with mining including; underground, block-cave and in particular tailings Dam or TSFs. Tailings Storage Facilities (TSF) are a crucial part of a mine development. In Brazil in 2019 a dam wall failure occurred in Brumadinho, killing 270 people. Following this event new standards were set by the International Council on Mining and Metals’ Global Standard for Tailings Management.

RDCL has worked with many mine operators and owners. RDCL’s NZ and Philippines teams have investigated and provided engineering assessments across many TSF in Philippines.

What did we deliver?

RDCL sent teams and equipment from our New Zealand and Manila offices to site, conducting programmes of geotechnical drilling, seismic surveys and electrical surveys, and extensive CPT testing coupled with Electronic shear vane tests and soil sampling. The aim of the project was to better understand the risk of liquefaction induced flow in the event the tailings storage dam ruptured in an severe earthquake event.


RDCL has in-house testing capability along with geotechnical engineering, allowing on-site data collection to better understand the ground. Our tailored testing programme developed ground models, liquefaction assessments and dam-break assessments. We advised the client on closure planning options to minimise the risk of tailings dam failure.

Services and tools

Site Investigations, ground modelling, ground retention, slope stability and ground improvement.

Geophysics including; MASW and SRT, ERT and CPT.

CPT including Electronic Shear Vane and un-disturbed soil sampling.

Hawke’s Bay
Te Matau-a-Māui
+64 6 877 1652
8/308 Queen Street East,
Hastings, Hawke’s Bay,
New Zealand
Te Whanganui-a-Tara
+64 4 282 1564
Unit 2, 2 Raiha St, Elsdon,
Porirua 5022, Wellington,
New Zealand.
Tāmaki Makaurau
+64 21 884 190
Unit A3, 269a Mount Smart Rd, Onehunga, Auckland 1061, New Zealand.
+63 916 276 3133 (Admin)+63 917 184 5147 (Technical)
Unit 2106, Prestige Tower,
F. Ortigas Jr. Road, Ortigas Center, Pasig City 1605, Metro Manila, Philippines.