An initiative to draft a Global Tailings Standard wrapped up its public consultation phase recently and Klohn Crippen Berger was among the stakeholders to submit feedback to the draft guidelines.
The standards are being developed by the Global Tailings Review, a joint effort between the International Council on Mining & Metals (ICMM), the UN Environment Programme, and Principles for Responsible Investment.
The Review was convened following the failure of the tailings storage facility at the Córrego do Feijão iron ore mine, near Brumadinho, Brazil, in January 2019. It aims to establish a standard for the construction, operation, and management of tailings facilities worldwide.
Specifically, the Review has three main goals for its final Standard:
- A global and transparent consequence-based tailings facility classification system;
- Requirements for emergency planning and preparedness; and
- A system for credible and independent assurance of tailings facilities.
The draft Standard is divided into six subject areas, each with a set of requirements. As described by the ICMM, the subject areas are as follows:
- Knowledge base requires mine operators to develop knowledge about the social, economic, and environmental context of a proposed or existing tailings facility.
- Affected communities focuses on the people living and working nearby. It requires human rights due diligence and meaningful engagement of project-affected people.
- Design, construction, operation and monitoring of tailings facilities aims to review technical aspects of tailings facilities.
- Management and governance focuses on related key roles, essential systems and critical processes.
- Emergency response and long-term recovery covers emergency preparedness and response in the event of a disaster, the reestablishment of ecosystems, and the long-term recovery of affected communities.
- Public disclosure and access to information requires public access to information about tailings facilities in order for all stakeholders to be informed of the risks and impacts, management and mitigation plans, and performance monitoring.
The Review will evaluate current best practices in the mining industry and, in addition to evidence and lessons learned from Brumadinho, it will consider findings from tailings facility failures at Mariana in 2015, and Mount Polley in 2014.
The Review held in-country consultations throughout November and December in Kazakhstan, China, Chile, Ghana, South Africa, and Australia.
The final Standard and accompanying recommendations — supporting the Standard and outlining how it is to be implemented — are to be published later in 2020. Along with the Standard, the Global Tailings Review will publish a consultation report reflecting the feedback, key themes, and ideas submitted by different stakeholder groups.
Following publication of the final Standard, all 27 ICMM member companies are expected to commit to its implementation. Thirty-six exploration and mining industry associations and commodity groups also belong to the ICMM.
Download the draft Global Tailings Standard.
Watch a webinar on the technical and environmental/social governance aspects of the draft standard.