n Journal of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering = Joernaal van die Suid-Afrikaanse Instituut van Siviele Ingenieurswese - The Merriespruit slimes dam failure : overview and lessons learnt : technical paper

Volume 39, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1021-2019



The Merriespruit slimes dam failure occurred in February 1994 when 600 000 m<sup>3</sup> of liquid slime rushed through the Merriespruit village, causing the death of 17 people, widespread devastation and environmental damage. This paper sketches the early history of the dam and gives a brief description of dam-building techniques used on gold slimes dams. This is followed by a section on the management and condition of the facility prior to the disaster. It is concluded that compartment 4A, which failed, was in an unacceptable condition owing to poor management. The risk of slimes dams failing can be reduced if the basic rules of safe dam operation are observed and if the dam is audited at regular intervals by a third party.

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