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ICMM launches resources to support tailings management

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Global Mining Review,

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) has launched two new resources to support continual improvement in the safe and transparent management of tailings facilities: ‘Conformance Protocols for the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management’ and a ‘Tailings Management: Good practice guide’.

When ICMM launched the standard alongside the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), members committed that all tailings facilities with ‘Extreme’ or ‘Very high’ potential consequences will be in conformance with the standard by August 2023, and all other facilities by August 2025. To support this timeline, ICMM its new developed a set of conformance protocols to help operators and independent third parties assess implementation of the standard’s requirements across tailings facilities. The 219 clear and concise criteria in the conformance protocols map to the standard’s 77 requirements, enabling conformance against all applicable requirements to be assessed.

The launch of ICMM’s ‘Tailings Management: Good practice guide’ aims to promote good governance and engineering practices that support continuous improvement in the management of new and existing tailings facilities, and to strengthen the ‘safety culture’ within companies. It provides comprehensive guidance on tailings management, covering a broad range of technical and engineering elements, including improved engineering practices across the whole tailings lifecycle: from project conception and design to construction and operation, closure, and post-closure. It integrates stronger governance around four key areas: 1) corporate policy, accountability and responsibility; 2) operation, maintenance and surveillance activities; 3) information management; and 4) oversight and emergency preparedness. It also reinforces the importance of engaging with local communities and regulators. It is the first guidance that clearly details the roles of board directors and executives relating to tailings management.

The guide includes a performance-based, risk-informed approach advocated by Professor Norbert Morgenstern, a world leading expert in tailings management, who was actively engaged in its the development. This approach centres on continuous monitoring to confirm that a tailings facility is performing as intended which provides a rigorous technical basis for decision making and proactive management.

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