Petra Diamonds (PDL.L) has suspended operations at its Williamson mine in Tanzania for up to three months following the breach of a tailings dam wall earlier this week, the company announced on Thursday. Petra Diamonds, which operates three mines in South Africa as well as Tanzania's largest diamond mine, said there were no fatalities and three minor injuries as a result of the incident, and that an investigation was underway to determine the cause of the breach.
The breach has affected a total of 13 residences, with those affected receiving assistance and lodging, according to Petra. The company stated that it would implement a planned maintenance programme to mitigate the impact of lost production. The Tanzanian government owns the remaining 75% of the Williamson mine. In Petra's fiscal year ending June 30, the mine produced 228,070 carats of diamonds, generating $76 million in revenue.
Faults in tailings dams, which are enormous embankments constructed to contain mining waste, have caused multiple environmental disasters and fatalities, the biggest of which being a dam collapse in Brumadinho, Brazil, in January 2019 that killed 270 people. On September 11, a tailings dam collapse at a defunct South African diamond mine killed at least one person and wounded hundreds more, shining a light on how miners across the world manage their waste.