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Our tailings storage facility in Peru

Tailings in the spotlight

Thursday, 2 May 2019

The mining industry’s tailings facilities are in the spotlight following the catastrophic tailings failure at Vale’s Feijão iron ore mine in Brumadinho, Brazil, in January 2019, which resulted in over 300 deaths. This follows the 19 fatalities during the Samarco tailings failure in 2015, and significant environmental damage after the Mt Polley tailings dam collapse in Canada in 2014.

Tailings storage facilities (TSFs) are dams where mines deposit much of their waste produced in mining processes.

The tailings disasters have required a co-ordinated response from the mining industry and we are working with our peers in the International Council on Mining & Metals (ICMM) in developing new governance and technical standards to ensure that tailings disasters like those in Brazil do not occur again. Our Group Tailings Management Guidelines are aligned to the ICMM Tailings Position Statement. Details of the ICMM’s work can be found at https://www.icmm.com/en-gb/environment/tailings.

In addition, we have acted independently in ensuring that our TSFs meet all the necessary standards and guidelines. We have now embarked on a programme to further improve operational safety of our TSFs and strengthened governance oversight of its 33 tailings facilities at Board level. For a comprehensive update on these and other initiatives please read the relevant section of our 2018 Integrated Annual Report at: https://www.goldfields.com/reports/annual-report-2018/waste-and-tailings.php


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