The collapse of the Jagersfontein tailings dam in South Africa – 2022

Jagersfontein is a small mining town located in the Free State of South Africa, which on Sunday the 11th September 2022 was struck by a mudflow resulting from the failure of a tailings dam. So far, the outcome of this disaster is of one life lost, one missing and 76 injured as well as 51 houses destroyed and 103 severely damaged. The mudflow ran a distance of about 9 kilometres with a front exceeding one kilometre in width.

Up to the early 1970s, at Jagersfontein there had been a diamond mine and its tailings dam had not been fed for over 50 years, although it was still used for decanting second processing tailings.

The Jagersfontein incident is disaster no. 106 after the Stava Valley catastrophe of 1985.

The problem concerning the safety of tailings dams no longer in service also affects Italy, where, according to the data of the National Inventory of abandoned artificial basins for the containment of mining waste carried out by ISPRA (The Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research), there are 650 abandoned or closed tailings dams. All these structures “could have considerable, negative repercussions on the environment and, in the short or medium term, they could be a serious threat for human health and the environment”.

In the photos: Jagersfontein, Free State, South Africa, Sunday, 11th September 2022.

Chronology of major tailings dam failures