Volume 45, N. 2

April-June 2022

The mechanics of iron tailings from laboratory tests on reconstituted samples collected in post-mortem Dam I in Brumadinho


Volume 45, N. 2, April-June 2022 | DOWNLOAD PDF (231 downloads)


Dam B1 was approximately 85 m high and 700 m long along the crown when it suddenly failed in 25th of January, after 41 years of operations and deposition of tailings at the Paraopeba mining complex (Côrrego de Feijão), in Minas Gerais, Brazil. More than 250 people died and vast economic, social and environmental damages resulted from the collapse. Given the need to geotechnically characterise the tailings within the dam for a credible computational model of the failure, an extensive sampling and laboratory testing campaign took place. The geotechnical laboratory of the Civil Engineering Department at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (Portugal) was invited by CIMNE, under a contract with VALE, with MPF agreement, to conduct this program. This paper will present a description of the sampling campaigns in the remaining post-mortem dam/reservoir tailings were the failure instability mechanics developed and the experimental program undertaken to test the tailings in advanced laboratory tests. The results that embrace evaluations of the physical, hydraulic and mechanical properties, deduced from integral samples selectively collected and prepared as described, which allowed to define the geotechnical parameters necessary for the referred analyses are here resumed.

Keywords: Geotechnical laboratory tests, Iron ore tailings, Critical state soil mechanics, Tailings dam failure, Instability, Liquefaction,

Submitted on February 04, 2022.
Final Acceptance on March 31, 2022.
Discussion open until August 31, 2022.
DOI: 10.28927/SR.2022.001122