Mine Tailings Failure

Background

The Catoca mine is a large diamond mine located in the Lunda Sul province of Angola. It is one of the largest diamond mines in the world and is jointly owned by several mining companies.

On July 27th, 2021, a breach in a spillway duct led to a massive spill of "rejected pulp," resulting in significant environmental damage. The spill introduced massive pollution into the Lova River, where the impacts were directly observed over 100 km downstream from the mine.

Additionally, the pollution of the Tchicapa River rendered the drinking water in the Muatova neighborhood in the city of Lucapa unsafe. 

Insights

Significant subsidence was observed along the main tailings dam for eight months leading up to the failure.

Additional subsidence signals were observed along other roads and dams within the TMF.

Satellite data plays a key role as the “first line of defense” in identifying early warning signs of displacement

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