The International Council on Mining & Metals (ICMM) announced its governing Council of 27-member CEOs will establish an independent panel of experts to develop an international standard for tailings facilities for its member companies. The standard will be informed by a review of current global best practices in the mining industry and beyond.

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’s Chief Executive Officer Tom Butler said 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,” concluded Mr Butler.

ICMM plans to engage with representatives from civil society, communities, industry, investors, and multilateral organisations, 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.