On Monday, June 10, the chair of the Global Tailings Review, Dr. Bruno Oberle, announced the scope of the review and its next steps, which includes visits to local communities near tailings storage facilities.

The Global Tailings Review was established by the International Council of Mining and Metals (ICMM), the Principles for Responsible Investment and the United Nations Environment Program in response to the tailings dam failure in Brumadinho, Brazil. It will be divided into three phases.

The first, a research phase, includes engagement with communities living and working near tailings storage facilities, and will evaluate current best practices from the mining sector and other industries. This research will help draft an international tailings standard and a related report that will be published at the end of the summer, according to Oberle. The second phase will include a broad consultation of these drafts. Regional meetings and an online consultation are expected, in order to canvas as many views as possible. In the final phase, Oberle will consider the responses and develop an international standard for tailings storage facilities and a report by the end of 2019.

The report will outline broader recommendations to support uptake and implementation of the standard. The standard and report will be published in early 2020. Over the next two months, Oberle will visit tailings storage sites around the world, collecting feedback from a wide range of groups.

This week, Oberle will travel to Brazil to meet people affected by the tragedy at Brumadinho, where 246 people were killed and 24 are still missing, and by the 2015 Samarco incident that caused 19 deaths and widespread environmental destruction.

Implementation of the new international standard will be mandatory for all ICMM company members, and the co-convenors of the review will also work to encourage non-ICMM members to implement the standard.

“Engaging with people from civil society, academia, business and multilateral institutions has helped me to set out an ambitious work plan for the independent Global Tailings Review,” Oberle said. “I feel that it is important that I witness the impact of the tragedy at Brumadinho and listen to affected communities. I will be doing this as my first priority.”