The Global Tailings Review (GTR) has launched the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management, establishing the first global standard on tailings management that can be applied to existing and future tailings facilities.
The GTR originally co-convened in March 2019 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) following the tailings facility collapse at Brumadinho, Brazil, on 25 January 2019. The co-conveners have each endorsed the new global standard and call for its broad and effective implementation across the industry:
- UNEP will support governments that wish to incorporate and build upon this standard into their national or state legislation and policies.
- PRI, representing US$103.4 trillion in assets under management, will be developing investor expectations to support all mining companies in implementing the standard.
- ICMM member companies will implement the standard as a commitment of membership, which includes robust site-level validation and third-party assessments.
GTR chair Dr Bruno Oberle said: “The catastrophic dam collapse at Vale’s Córrego de Feijão mine in Brumadinho was a human and environmental tragedy that demanded decisive and appropriate action to enhance the safety and strengthen the governance of tailings facilities across the globe. I am particularly pleased to deliver a document which reflects and addresses the complexity and multi-disciplinary nature of sound tailings management.”
The goal of the standard is to achieve zero harm to people and the environment by strengthening current practices as well as elevating accountability to the highest organisational levels and adding new requirements for independent oversight throughout the entire tailings facility lifecycle. It also establishes clear expectations around global transparency and disclosure requirements, helping to improve understanding by interested stakeholders.
The standard covers six key topics: affected communities; integrated knowledge base; design, construction, operation and monitoring of tailings facilities; management and governance; emergency response and long-term recovery; and public disclosure and access to information. These topics contain 15 principles and 77 specific auditable requirements.
“It has been a privilege to lead this work and I now call on all mining companies, governments and investors to use the standard and to continue to work together to improve the safety of tailings facilities globally. It is my hope that the standard will be supported by an independent body that can maintain the quality and further refine and strengthen the standard over time,” Dr Oberle said.