New global standard to improve tailings dam safety

Monday, 18 March, 2019

New global standard to improve tailings dam safety

An independent panel of experts will develop an international standard for tailings facilities, according to the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM).

The ICMM announced that its governing council of 27 member CEOs will establish this panel, in order to develop a consistent standard for its member companies. It will be informed by a review of current global best practices in the mining industry.

The standard is expected to create a step change for the industry in the safety and security of these facilities. The details of the standard will be defined through the review process but are expected to include:

  • a global and transparent consequence-based tailings facility classification system with appropriate requirements for each level of classification;
  • a system for credible, independent reviews of tailings facilities;
  • requirements for emergency planning and preparedness.

“ICMM CEOs have committed to creating a step change for the industry in the safety of tailings facilities by developing a recognised international standard for member companies. The standard will be based on best practices to ensure that tailings facility risks are managed appropriately, consistently and transparently. While the standard would become a member commitment, ICMM will encourage others to join us in advocating for it to be adopted more broadly,” said Tom Butler, ICMM’s Chief Executive Officer.

ICMM will engage with representatives from civil society, communities, industry, investors and multilateral organisations, in order to determine the detailed scope of the review. The review will be carried out by a team of experts from diverse disciplines, led by an independent chair, and is expected to be complete by the end of 2019.

ICMM’s CEOs have also agreed to initiate work to:

  • define technical guidance for the safe design, construction, operation and closure of tailings facilities, by drawing upon existing technical best practice;
  • develop capacity and a database to facilitate learning and knowledge sharing across the industry; and,
  • consider ways to leverage member resources to enhance and optimise the industry’s existing research and training initiatives.

Image credit: © Woolcock

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