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ICMM to establish mine tailings storage facilities standard - Mining Weekly

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

International mining organisation, the International Council of Mining and Metals (ICMM) will conduct an independent review of mine tailings storage facilities to establish an international standard for the safe management of tailings storage facilities that can be applied to all tailings dams wherever they are located and whoever operates them, the ICMM said on Wednesday.

The ICMM, the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) are co-conveners of the review.

The review was set up in response to the Brumadinho tragedy, in Brazil, in January, and will be informed by evidence and lessons from this disaster, as well as earlier mine tailings dam failures.

Professor Bruno Oberle of École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne or the Lausanne Federal Institute of Technology, in Switzerland, will chair the independent review. He is a panel member of the International Resource Panel and a member of the Leadership Council of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network. He was also previously the Swiss Secretary of State for the Environment and director of the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment.

Oberle will oversee every aspect of the review and prepare a report, which is expected to be published by the end of the year.

“This is a demanding role and we have a responsibility to the people of Brumadinho to get this right. My objective is clear: I will oversee a comprehensive review of the current situation and draw up a new international standard for tailings storage facilities that draws on the best practice from around the globe,” he said.

In addition to the appointment of a chair from outside the mining sector, the independence of the review will be assured by the appointment of a multistakeholder advisory panel comprising nongovernmental organisations, international bodies and responsible investors, the ICMM said.

The chair will also be able to draw on the experience of an expert panel of tailings and dam specialists drawn from academia and industry, it added.

“Professor Oberle brings exactly the right experience and qualities to ensure that the review is robust and will lead to a step change in the international standards on tailings dams,” UNEP communications director Naysán Sahba said.

“Oberle has the right credentials to lead this review. The new standard that the review agrees will be mandatory for ICMM members and adopted at all their operational assets globally. I hope that nonmembers will sign up to the standard too,” said ICMM CEO Tom Butler.

Meanwhile, PRI CEO Fiona Reynolds said: “Alongside our investor representatives – the Swedish Council of Ethics and the Church of England Pensions Board – the PRI is pleased with the appointment of Oberle to chair the independent mine tailings review. We hope to see robust investor engagement around an international standard for the safe management of tailings storage facilities in the near future.” 

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