The recent incidents within the mining industry with tailings storage facility failures and surface/underground mining disasters show the magnitude of consequence which occurs because of these events. Metallurgical surface facilities such as concentrators, smelters and refineries are not inherently immune to events of similar magnitudes. Multiple fatality incidents, community exposure to acute risks and large-scale environmental damage have and do result from surface facility operations.
The mitigation of low-likelihood, high-consequence risks presents unique challenges for metal processing operations. Often there are neither industrial guidelines nor sufficient experience gained from incidents within the facility (or even across multiple facilities operated by the same entity) to assure that such risks have been controlled to the greatest reasonable extent.