In order to extract proportionately small quantities of valuable minerals, mining companies move large amounts of earth. A resulting waste product of this process has traditionally been stored in a semi-liquid phase known as tailings, typically stored in a large pond created by an earthen dam at the low end of a drainage basin. It is generally expected that these dams are stable enough to withstand the pressure of the stored material. Unfortunately, history shows us that this is not always the case. The Baia Mare dam in Romania failed in 2000, causing tragic and prolonged environmental damage to several major European rivers. The Bento Rodrigues dam in Brazil failed on Nov. 5, 2015, and that event resulted in the loss of 16 lives.