ICMM to release strict tailings dams standard next year

Former Vale CEO Fabio Schvartsman in a helicopter overlooking the breach. Image: Vale

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) is seeking public advice on the international standard for tailings management.

A draft standard was convened by the Global Tailings review, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) in response to the catastrophic tailings dam collapse at Brumadinho, Brazil in January.

It proposes a range of measures including an engagement with project-affected people at all stages of a tailings facility lifecycle, and linking remuneration to the integrity of dams.

The public consultation is open until December 31, after which the final standard will be published next year.

“While there is still much work to be done before the standard can be finalised, ICMM’s membership is committed to engaging in an open and transparent discussion, and providing feedback through the consultation in order to ensure the final standard is both feasible and effective in meeting our shared goal,” ICMM stated.

“I encourage all interested people to do the same.”

The public consultation is firstly done online via a survey, which is available in seven languages, followed by in-country consultations across mining jurisdictions in the northern and southern hemispheres.

“The standard makes clear that extreme consequences to people and the environment from catastrophic tailings facility failures are unacceptable,” the draft standard reads.

“Operators must have zero tolerance for human fatalities and must strive for ‘zero harm’ to people and the environment from the inception of project planning.”

An independent expert panel takes into account the perspectives of local communities, civil society groups, regulators, investors, insurers and the mining industry in developing the standard.