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A dam big problem

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Science  21 Aug 2020:
Vol. 369, Issue 6506, pp. 906-909
DOI: 10.1126/science.369.6506.906

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Summary

Countries and mining companies around the world are confronting a crisis over what to do with growing lakes of toxic mud generated by mines. Often stored behind earthen dams that can rise nearly 300 meters tall, dam failures in recent years have killed more than 100 people, buried ecosystems, and sent local communities, scientists, regulators, miners, and environmentalists searching for solutions. The problem is daunting: As many as 21,000 tailings dams dot the globe, and they are growing larger as miners excavate more waste rock for each kilogram of valuable metals. Engineers and other researchers are tackling the problem through a mixture of new technology and more rigorous procedures for designing and building the dams.

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