26 September 2022
High resolution satellite imagery of the Jagersfontein tailings dam failure
As always the image is beautiful (although the subject is grim), showing the major breach on the eastern end of the southern edge of facility, plus the other locations of major erosion (which remain unexplained). Note also the inundated houses.
Meanwhile the New York Times has a detailed and excellent article about the breach. Interestingly, it reports that a crack was spotted in the facility at 2 am on the day of the collapse:-
At about 2 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 11, a truck driver at the dam spotted a crack in the facade, several workers there that day said in interviews. The driver reported it to a foreman, who checked it out but did not do anything, the workers said.
Joe Makalajane, a pan operator at the mine, did not see the crack himself but spoke to the driver as they were ending their shift, he said.
“He said, ‘I’ll tell you, that thing is going to blast,’” said Mr. Makalajane, 45, recalling his conversation. Of management, he added, “They didn’t take it seriously.”
It has been widely reported that the Jagersfontein tailings dam was owned by Stargems, and indeed there are quotes online from the company about the facility. It is remarkable though that the news section of the their website appears to lack any information about the failure.
Previous tailings dam failures have been investigated by independent teams, with the outcomes being published openly. An example is the Córrego do Feijão tailings dam failure at Brumandinho in Brazil. I have still to see a commitment to a similar level of transparency in the case of the Jagersfontein tailing dam failure. Interestingly, the summary of the meeting of the South African government cabinet in which the disaster was considered makes no reference to an independent investigation. Does anyone have any more information?
Planet Team (2022). Planet Application Program Interface: In Space for Life on Earth. San Francisco, CA. https://www.planet.com/