HOTTER ON METALS: Miners fail to step up tailings safety

When a tailings dam ruptured in the state of Minas Gerais in southeast Brazil last year, it was a harsh reminder for the mining sector that it needs to consistently operate within the parameters of strict controls and stay alert to potentially tragic risks.

The disaster - at Vale’s Feijão mine in Brumadinho - led to the deaths of 270 people after the ruptured dam flooded a nearby community.
Just over a year later, and it would appear that not only has the mining industry been slow to learn lessons from the tragedy, but also that not a huge amount has improved since.
A recent report by Switzerland-based Responsible Mining Foundation found that while an investor-led initiative has resulted in improved transparency about companies’ tailings storage facilities (TSF), the vast majority of miners are still unable to demonstrate they are reviewing the effectiveness of their management of tailings risks and taking responsive actions where necessary.
Critically, the report - encompassing 38 large-scale mining companies operating in more than 780 mine sites - also found that very few mine sites show evidence of having informed local communities about what to do in the case of a tailings-related incident.

Published

Andrea Hotter

April 15, 2020

03:31 GMT

New York