Following the tailings dam failure at Vale’s Córrego de Feijão mine in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, Brazil, the International Council on Mining & Metals (ICMM), which is governed by a council comprising of CEOs of member companies, announced its will establish an independent panel of experts to develop an international standard for tailings facilities for its member companies. The standard will be informed by a review of current global best practices in the mining industry, and beyond, the ICMM said. The standard is expected to create a step-change for the industry in the safety and security of these facilities.

The details of the standard are expected to include a global and transparent consequence-based tailings facility classification system with appropriate requirements for each level of classification; a system for credible, independent reviews of tailings facilities; and requirements for emergency planning and preparedness.

“ICMM CEOs have committed to creating a step-change for the industry in the safety of tailings facilities by developing a recognized international standard for member companies,” ICMM CEO Tom Butler said. “The standard will be based on best practices to ensure that tailings facility risks are managed appropriately, consistently, and transparently.”

ICMM will engage with representatives from civil society, communities, industry, investors, and multilateral organizations to determine the detailed scope of the review. The review will be carried out by a team of experts from diverse disciplines, led by an independent chair and is expected to be complete by the end of 2019.

ICMM will initiate work to define technical guidance for the safe design, construction, operation, and closure of tailings facilities, by drawing upon existing technical best practice; develop capacity and a database to facilitate learning and knowledge sharing across the industry; and consider ways to leverage member resources to enhance and optimize the industry’s existing research and training initiatives.