Bowtie on risk management for Tailing Facilities - keeping it simple!

By Sarah Gordon, Managing Director, Satarla

It is possible to capture the essence of a risk in five minutes, using the framework to structure a more detailed analysis. A risk bowtie is a visual representation of all the key knowledge around a risk that can be viewed on a single page. This key knowledge includes the controls you have set up to prevent the risk from becoming an incident.

Bowtie risk visualization lets you have objective discussions and make rapid decisions. This is especially useful when you need to collect information from a range of specialists and communicate in an integrated manner.

Bowties were originally used in risk management as an incident investigation tool. They are now used live in workshops to help organizations better prepare for potential opportunities or threats to their business objectives.

At Satarla, we have used this tool around the world, in many different contexts. Risk bowties have helped many different organizations to better understand their risk.

Bowties don’t all need to make use of sticky notes. They can, of course, be recorded in IsoMetrix and then used in different ways to inform decision makers, instigate actions and communicate the key facets of a risk to a broader audience.

Bowties for Tailings Dams

The requirement for tailings dams pose a significant risk to the mining industry and all those connected with such facilities, be they communities, governments, or the companies themselves.

A failure of a tailings facility can have dire consequences for an organization. The failure of the Bento Rodrigues tailings dam on the 5th November 2015 in Brazil (Samarco), resulted in 17 lives being lost. Furthermore, 60 million m3 of iron waste was released into the Doce River. To date, 21 Directors of the company have been charged with homicide and the estimated cost to the owners is $43 Billion.

In Conclusion

Mining in general needs to be smarter in terms of the technology it uses and kinder to the environments in which it operates. We may not be able to eradicate our need for tailings facilities, however, we can certainly manage them better and ensure that the likelihood of failure is significantly reduced.

This is only one example of how a risk bow-tie can be used to explain a complex situation and prompt data-based discussion and decision making. Please feel free to contact us directly if you would like to discuss other examples or our experience using risk bow-ties as a method of reporting and problem-solving at all levels in organizations.

About Satarla

Satarla specializes in sustainable enterprise-wide risk management. Offering consultancy, training and research services, they are a network of risk management experts based all over the world. Working with a wide range of organizations, from mining to the government, healthcare, agriculture, banking, insurance, and charities, they have hands-on experience in delivering quality risk management from site to board level.

Read more: Paul de Kock on Critical Controls and Bowtie risk visualization