ICMM publishes new global mine tailings safety standard with UN

The International Council on Mining and Minerals (ICMM) has published a new global standard on managing mine waste facilities following a series of high-fatality accidents involving tailings dams.

The highly anticipated global standard was developed in tandem with the United Nations (UN) with the aim of future dams causing “zero harm to people and the environment with zero tolerance for human fatality.”

ICMM and the UN convened in March 2019 to undertake a ‘global tailings review’ to represent government, industry and investor stakeholders. The end result is a 15-point document that establishes new standards to prevent tailings dams failures.

“These dams are some of the largest human-made structures on the planet and require careful ongoing management,” said the UN’s Elaine Baker, who oversaw development of the new standards.

“While large-scale failures of tailings dams are uncommon, when they do occur, they can be catastrophic for downstream communities and the environment.”

The January 2019 tailings dam collapse at Vale’s iron ore mine in Brumadinho, Brazil caused the deaths of 259 people and led to criminal charges against the company executives and auditors. It followed a similar dam failure at Vale and BHP’s Samarco mine in November 2015, which killed 19.