Satellite imagery shows aftermath of catastrophic tailings dam failure in South Africa

jagersfontein south africa september 6 2022 f2

A catastrophic tailings dam failure occurred at the Jagersfontein diamond mine in South Africa early Sunday morning, September 11, 2022, leaving at least 4 people dead and causing severe environmental damage.

Satellite imagery acquired by the Sentinel-2 satellite on September 11 shows the aftermath of the event. Unfortunately, toxic waste has also entered the nearby dam and Prosesspruit stream.1

jagersfontein south africa september 6 2022
Image credit: Copernicus EU/Sentinel-2, EO Browser, The Watchers. Acquired on September 6, 2022
jagersfontein south africa september 11 2022
Image credit: Copernicus EU/Sentinel-2, EO Browser, The Watchers. Acquired on September 11, 2022
jagersfontein south africa september 6 2022 large
Image credit: Copernicus EU/Sentinel-2, EO Browser, The Watchers. Acquired on September 6, 2022
jagersfontein south africa september 11 2022 large
Image credit: Copernicus EU/Sentinel-2, EO Browser, The Watchers. Acquired on September 11, 2022

“It appears that the pond, which is about 1 km [0.6 miles] long and 500 m [0.3 miles] wide has largely emptied,” landslides expert Dr. Dave Petley said after examining Planet Labs satellite imagery.

“The plume of tailings extends about 8.5 km [5.3 miles] towards the southeast and is up to about 1.5 km [1 miles] wide.

“Worryingly, the satellite images also indicate that the tailings have entered the main channel. The main channel flows out towards the north, with a small dam creating a lake.”

Images acquired also show that the dam has been overcome, although it is possible that it has retained a substantial volume of waste, Petley said. “We will need to wait for better imagery to understand the impact better.”

1 Catastrophic tailings dam failure at the Jagersfontein diamond mine, South Africa

2 The 11 September 2022 Jagersfontein tailings dam failure – The Landslide Blog – September 12, 2022

Featured image credit: Free State Government

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