Rio Tinto refines tailings strategy

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Rio Tinto has updated its tailings facility management to promote the safer practices associated with the Global Industry Standard for Tailings Management (GISTM).

The GISTM was established by the Global Tailings Review, which is a collaboration between companies of the International Council on Mining & Metals, including Rio Tinto.

These companies agreed to comply with the GISTM in August 2020.

The GISTM included measures which prevent tailings facility failures in an effort to promote zero harm.

This included public disclosure of information about tailings facilities, emergency prepared news for tailings failures, enhanced environmental social governance (ESG) for tailings and enhanced design, operation and closure of tailings facilities.

Rio Tinto has 106 tailings storage facilities worldwide.

“In 2020, we completed the technical risk review programme at each of our managed and non-managed tailings storage facilities (TSFs),” Rio Tinto stated.

“The review programme, which began in 2019, found that while our TSFs are generally well managed and there are no immediate dam safety threats, we have opportunities to improve.”

According to Rio Tinto, any of its tailings facilities that rank “extreme” or “very high” for potential consequences will comply with the GISTM by August 5, 2023.

The company stated that any facilities not in a safe state of closure will comply with the standard by August 5, 2025.

In 2020, Rio Tinto deployed a nominated manager and qualified site representative to all of its tailings storage facilities for monitoring.

Rio Tinto’s tailings facilities have three levels of governance to ensure safer practice is achieved.

The first level involves effective facility design with independent reviews at least every two years.

Rio Tinto’s second level of governance and assurance then undertakes periodic business conformance audits and technical reviews, and the third level of assurance is conducted by third parties.

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