Sustainability Blog

Supporting the development of international tailings safety standard

The International Council on Mining & Metals (ICMM) are working with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) to deliver an international standard for the safe management of tailings facilities. The joint initiative by ICMM, UNEP and PRI is called the Global Tailings Review (GTR).

Uniquely for the industry, the development process will involve the participation both of corporates and other external stakeholders.

The initiative addresses heightened attention globally on this area of mining safety following the tragic collapse of the Brumadinho tailings dam in Brazil in January 2019, which led to the deaths of 270 local residents.

Following research to understand best practice in the design, construction, operation and monitoring of tailings facilities, and the potential risk for those communities living in proximity to tailings storage facilities, Dr Bruno Oberle, Chair of GTR, has launched a global public consultation on a draft Global Tailings Standard.

The consultation, which will be completed by the end of the year, is now open to collect feedback from the industry and its stakeholders so that a fit-for-purpose tailings safety standard can be developed.

As part of the ongoing consultation process, members of the public are invited to contribute their own feedback on the draft standard on the GTR website till December 31, 2019.

Polyus has been a member of ICMM since 2015 and is working closely with the organisation on this initiative.

In our own business, our comprehensive approach to tailings safety has so far enabled us to achieve a clean track-record. However, we cannot be complacent in this and work consistently to maintain the highest safety standards internationally and collaborate with peers and stakeholders to improve the safety performance of the broader industry.

Amongst other stakeholders, the investment community is taking the issue of tailings safety increasingly seriously, demanding investee companies demonstrate high standards as part of strong Environmental, Social and Governance practices.

Earlier in 2019 Polyus published a comprehensive report of our internal tailings safety policies and procedures in response to a request from a group of investors led by the Church of England Pension Board and Swedish Council on Ethics for the AP Funds. We welcome this increased scrutiny, which will support continuing improvements and transparency in the mining industry.

Following completion of the ongoing public consultation, which will take feedback on six key areas, including governance, construction design, emergency response and public disclosure, the Global Tailings Standard is expected to be published in early 2020.