Here is a link to a PowerPoint presentation that appears to come out of some educational institution. The only indication of origin is attribution of photos and drawings to Smith William Consultants. But I do not think they are responsible for the presentation.

The presentation correctly applies the Failure Mode & Effect Analysis methodology to a hypothetical heap leach pad. What I found fascinating is the summary—here is some of the summary. I listed by (1) Part & Function; (2) Potential Effects of Failure; and (3) Recommended Action.

Soil Liner:contaminate groundwater, production loss: replace, repair barrier.

Leachate Collection and Recovery System: loss of detection, product loss: replace, repair, isolate, do nothing.

Geosynthetic Liner: contaminate groundwater, product loss: replace, repair, unload, fix, isolate.

Liner Protective System: damage to liner: replace, repair.

Underdrain System: product loss: replace, repair, do nothing.

Geotextile: damage to underdrain system: replace, repair, do nothing.

Ore Heap (Shallow): damage, product loss, disrupts operation: unload, dry out, dewater, repair.

Ore Heap (Deep): catastrophic, pad destruction, environmental crisis: buttress, unload, dry out, dewater, isolate, rebuild.

The shear effrontery in thinking you can replace or repair liners, drains, and the like buried deep beneath the ore stacked on the heap leach pad is awesome. The honesty that “do nothing” is an option is refreshing. And the “dewater, isolate, and rebuild” in the event of deep seated failure is so obvious, we should all take care to avoid.

My recommendation is to do a similar, more in-depth assessment for your heap leach pad.