Global Tailings Review launches public consultation

London Dr Bruno Oberle, Chair of the Global Tailings Review, has launched a public consultation on the draft Global Tailings Standard today. The consultation will collect feedback from all interested stakeholders in order to develop a robust, fit-for-purpose international standard for the safer management of tailings. The consultation ends on 31 December 2019.

The Global Tailings Review was co-convened by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) and Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) following the catastrophic tailings dam collapse at Brumadinho, Brazil on 25 January 2019, to establish an international standard on tailings facilities management. The final Global Tailings Standard will need to be endorsed by all three Co-Convenors.

The public consultation will take place in two parts. Firstly, online via a survey which has been translated into seven languages. Secondly, in-country consultations across a range of mining jurisdictions in the northern and southern hemispheres.

The draft Standard addresses six key topics:

  • Knowledge base – requires mine operators to develop knowledge about the social, economic and environmental context of a proposed or existing tailings facility.
  • Affected communities – focuses on the people living and working nearby. It requires human rights due diligence and meaningful engagement of project-affected people.
  • Design, construction, operation and monitoring of tailings facilities – aims to review design, construction, operation and monitoring of tailings facilities.
  • Management and governance – focuses on ongoing management and governance of tailings facilities. It defines a number of key roles, essential systems and critical processes.
  • Emergency response and long-term recovery – covers emergency preparedness and response in the event of a disaster, the re-establishment of ecosystems, and the long-term recovery of affected communities.
  • Public disclosure and access to information – requires public access to information about tailings facilities in order for all stakeholders to be informed of the risks and impacts, management and mitigation plans, and performance monitoring.

The Chair and Expert Panel welcome feedback and suggestions from all stakeholders and will consider all comments and submissions received.

The Review is committed to transparency and once the final Standard is published, the Global Tailings Review will provide a consultation report that reflects feedback, key themes, topics and sentiments from different stakeholder groups, as well as how that feedback was processed and addressed in the final version of the Standard.

It is expected that the final Standard and accompanying recommendations report, which will outline broader proposals to support the uptake and implementation of the Standard, will be published in 2020.

Dr Oberle, Chair of the Global Tailings Review, said: “The public consultation phase allows for critique, feedback and suggestions from others that both informs and enriches the draft Standard, and we invite all stakeholders to share their diverse insights and points of view to help drive the change process forward. The draft Standard is one part of a wider global drive to strengthen performance on tailings management and the requirements of the draft Standard can complement these initiatives, for example, in areas such as corporate governance and public reporting.”

Tom Butler, CEO of ICMM, said: “ICMM and its member companies co-convened the Global Tailings Review to develop a fit-for-purpose international standard for the safer management of tailings facilities and to help reassure communities, authorities, investors and other stakeholders in our industry. We note there is still much work to do in order for ICMM to endorse the final Standard. 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.”

Ligia Noronha, Director of UNEP’s Economy Division, said: “Tailings dam failures are no accidents. They are tragedies. While minerals are important to the green energy transition and sustainable development, ensuring human and ecosystem wellbeing is of paramount importance. UNEP has co-convened the global tailings review to develop an industry standard that ensures a greater responsibility, trust and assurance that minerals development will lead to positive outcomes for all. To this end, the public consultation is a strategic step in the process of development of this industry standard. We invite local communities and experts to express their opinion and contribute to making the standard as robust as possible.” 

Adam Matthews, from the Church of England Pensions Board representing the Principles for Responsible Development (PRI), said: “The Brumadinho disaster should never have happened and as a result we are all challenged to look at how the issue of tailings dams are addressed both in terms of the legacy of tailings facilities, the future operation of existing tailings facilities and future standards when a company decides if a tailings facility is needed. There are a number of responses underway and the development of a new standard by this Independent Review will be a key tool for companies in driving best practice. We are mindful that zero harm to people and environment has to be the objective and the standard has an important role to play to achieving a mining sector whose tailings facilities are operating to such a standard.”

The independent Review is led by Dr Oberle, supported by an interdisciplinary Expert Panel and informed by a Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group. It has completed its initial research phase, including engaging with communities living and working near tailings storage facilities and evaluating current best practices from the mining industry. This research informed the development of the draft Standard.

-Ends-

Note to editors

The draft Standard and public consultation is available at www.globaltailingsreview.org and will be open until 31 December 2019.

About ICMM

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) is an international organisation dedicated to a safe, fair and sustainable mining and metals industry. Bringing together 27 mining and metals companies and 36 regional and commodities associations, we strengthen environmental and social performance. We serve as a catalyst for change; enhancing mining’s contribution to society. Every ICMM member company adheres our Sustainable Development Framework which includes 10 Principles and 8 Position Statements on issues relating to sustainable development. on issues relating to sustainable development. Once the guidance to validate the performance expectations is complete, members will also be required to implement the performance expectations at the asset level.

About UNEP

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment. UNEP’s mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

About PRI

Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) is the world’s leading proponent of responsible investment. It works to understand the investment implications of ESG factors and to support its international network of investor signatories in incorporating these factors into their investment and ownership decisions. The PRI acts in the long-term interests of its signatories, of the financial markets and economies in which they operate, and ultimately, of the environment and society as a whole. The PRI is being represented in this process by John Howchin of the Swedish Council of Ethics and Adam Matthews of the Church of England Pensions Board.

Media contacts

International Council on Mining and Metals
Kristen Dodd
Kristen.dodd@icmm.com
+44 (0) 20 7467 5099

United Nations Environment Programme
Keisha Rukikaire
rukikaire@un.org
+254 20 7621104

Principles for Responsible Investment
Duncan Smith
duncan.smith@unpri.org
+44 (0) 203 714 3166