Brazilian mining specialists Samarco Mineração S/A commissioned Dyrhoff Ltd to design and supply the country’s first ever Rubber Dam. The air-inflated structure, measuring 1m high by 30m wide, is used to raise the crest of the existing Santarém Dam, located at Samarco’s Germano Operational Unit, in Mariana, Minas Gerais. The Santarém Dam impounds Samarco’s local mine tailings reservoir. Before the rubber dam was installed, about 70% of the reservoir capacity had been used up by tailings disposal, thus reducing the availability of water to be abstracted.
The rubber dam was designed to fit on the modified concrete spillway and, following completion of the preparatory civil works, took less than two weeks to install. At the request of Samarco, Dyrhoff designed a fully automatic control system, which will enable optimum regulation of the dam as the water level rises.