Mining Resources

Global standards, guidance, and documentation relating to risk management

Key organisations for Global Industry Standards on Tailings Management

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) co-convened the Global Tailings Review to establish an international standard for the safer management of tailings storage facilities.

The standard can be downloaded here, and the International Council on Mining & Metals (ICMM) Conformance Protocols for the GISTM can be downloaded here.

Key areas of Tailings Management

I. Affected Communities
Respect human rights by conducting human rights due diligence to identify and address those rights most at risk. Provide opportunities for meaningful engagement of project-affected people in decisions that may have a bearing on public safety and the integrity of the tailings facility.
II. Integrated Knowledge Base
Develop and document knowledge about the social, environmental and local economic context of a proposed or existing tailings facility. This multi-disciplinary knowledge base will support informed-decision-making by operatores and key stakeholders throughout the tailings facility lifecycle, e.g. in alternatives analyses, impact assessments, choice of technologies, consequence classification, emergency response plans, and closure planning.
III. Design, Construction, Operation & Monitoring
Establish robust requirements for the design, construction, operation and monitoring of tailings facilities to minimise the risk of failure by maintaining an informed knowledge base. As tailings facilities are dynamic engineered structures, demonstrate the ability to upgrade a facility to higher consequence classification or, where this is not feasible, reduce the consequences of a potential failure.
IV. Management & Governance
Assign responsibility and accountability for key roles in the management of a tailings facility. Establish standards for critical systems and processes essential to upholding the integrity of a facility throughout its lifecycle. Support cross-functional collaboration and promote an organisational culture that welcomes the indentification of problems and protects whistle-blowers.
V. Emergency Response & Long-Term Recovery
Establish a community-focused emergency preparedness and response plan. Consider the adequacy of capacity both internally and externally to respond, and engage with communities and public sector and other agencies to prepare for the event of a failure. Support the long-term recovery of communities and the environment affected by a catastrophic tailings facility failure.
VI. Public Disclosure & Access to Information
Disclose relevant information about the tailings facility to support public accountability. Commit to participate in global initiatives for the creation of standardised, independent, industry-wide and publicly accessible information about the safety and integrity of tailings facilities.

Supporting the Standards

The Conformance Protocols for the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management ( ‘the Conformance Protocols’) have been developed to support the integration of the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management (‘the Standard’) into ICMM’s existing assurance and validation processes for its member commitments. The Conformance Protocols support self-assessments and independent third party assessments of progress with implementing the Standard. While the primary audience is ICMM members and the independent consultants they engage with to assess conformance, it can also be applied by non-members.

White papers

Listed below are a selection of white papers on mine water management that provide significant insight into this critical aspect of mine operations and management.
The risk-based approach to water management, and major challenges in the mining industry - ESG and the economics and ethics.
Barry, S.  
The Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, vol. 120
View the PDF
Importance of pore pressure monitoring in high walls.
Morton, K.L., Muresan, M.C., and Ramsden, F.   
The Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, vol. 108
View the PDF
Tailings dam risk reduction rising accurate pore pressure monitoring.
Morton, K.L.  
South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy Tailings Storage Conference, 10-13 February 2020.
View the PDF

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