APPG Critical Minerals Event - Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management
Updated: Nov 24, 2020
On the 9th of November 2020, the APPG Critical Minerals hosted an event on the implementation of the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management, discussing its impact on key stakeholders, miners, local populations and investors. Read the Standards here.
The event was moderated by the Lord Bishop of Birmingham, with the following expert panellists:
Steve Double MP - Member of Parliament for St. Austell and Newquay, Chair of the APPG for Critical Minerals
Lucas Brown – British Consul, Belo Horizonte,The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
Adam Matthews – Director of Ethics and Engagement, Church of England Pensions board
Aidan Davy – COO, International Council on Mining and Metals
Antonia Mihaylova – Manager, Global Tailings Review
Some of the key themes were:
The Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management was launched in August 2020 and best practice guides for stakeholders to be adherent to these standards are in preparation.
Tailings (a waste rock by-product of mining) dams are some of the largest engineered structures in the world. Some have failed, resulting in many lost lives and environmental disasters such as Mariana and Brumadinho.
More demand for green technology (e.g. as part of the Paris Agreement) requires more mining, and therefore will result in more tailings.
With a renewed mining industry in Cornwall and a financial hub for many investment groups and minerals listed on the London Stock Exchange, the UK has a role to play in the oversight of mining safety standards and “a responsibility to ensure overseas operations don’t fall prey to negligence or bad practice”.
Investment groups can exert pressure on mining companies to conform to global ESG and safety standards such as the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management.
The Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management is multifaceted and requires positive cooperation and interaction from miners, local communities, local and regional government to be effective.
Steve Double, MP for St. Austell and Newquay, Chair of the APPG for Critical Minerals
"The UK has a leadership role to play in future mining practices. There is a strong case for establishing a future permanent tailings global centre of excellence, along with a monitoring hub, here in the UK and we should push for that. The global mining sector, much of it listed on the London Exchanges, is in urgent need of change. I hope that the UK will continue to lead in transforming mining to be safer, more environmental and a force for good. The UK has a role to play, we must continue to engage with Government. The APPG will continue to work to raise awareness in government on these key issues."
Lucas Brown, British Consul, Belo Horizonte,The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
Lessons were not learned and sufficient actions were not taken after the Mariana dam failure, in 2015, to avoid the 270 lives lost in Brumadinho. While the evolution of the extraction industry is both possible and necessary, the slow uptake of new methods and technology, and resistance to change in the mining sector is a problem. The Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management is a milestone in this regard.
The UK Government is supporting The Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management team to work with government, industry, and academia to promote the standard, and there is a real interest from local stakeholders to drive forwards with this.
There is an opportunity for the UK to be a pioneer in the dialogue around tailings.
Minerals are key to meeting green targets. To meet the goals of the Paris agreement, we need to mine more. The clean growth and ESG agendas need to be extended to the wider mining sector to deliver sustainable economic development.
For change to occur, government must give regulatory bodies tools and resources to act.
Adam Matthews, Director of Ethics and Engagement, Church of England Pensions board
The Church of England controls a £3bn pension fund, including investments in the mining industry. The mining sector is vital and we will continue to invest in the sector but we want to ensure that the right mechanisms are in place to prevent future tailings disasters.
After the Brumadinho tailings dam failure, it was decided the investment group must intervene and make change - the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management is one of 6 initiatives/interventions needed to improve standards, decrease risk, and improve safety.
The Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management will be voluntary, but an aim is to make adherence to this prerequisite for investment.
Antonia Mihaylova, Manager, Global Tailings Review
As part of the low carbon transition, more mining is required, which means more waste and more demand for waste storage. As such, tailings management will continue to be a critical issue.
The ultimate goal of the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management is zero harm to people and the environment. The Standard strengthens existing social, environmental and governance requirements in the mining industry. It covers the entire tailings facility lifecycle and elevates accountability to highest organisational levels of an operator. The Standard covers the following 6 topic areas:
Integrated knowledge base
Design, construction, operation, monitoring.
Management and governance
Emergency response and long-term recovery.
Public disclosure and access to relevant information.
Aidan Davy, COO, ICMM
Launch of the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management took place on 5 August 2020. The Standard is to be integrated into ICMM’s existing membership commitments, which include third party assurance and validation. ICMM member companies have committed that all tailings facilities with ‘Extreme’ or ‘Very high’ potential consequences will be in conformance with the Standard within 3 years of its launch date, and all other facilities within 5 years
The ICMM is in the process of producing a Good Practice Guide on Tailings Management to be released in Q1 of 2021. The Guide is intended to support safe, responsible management of tailings across the global mining industry and ultimately help prevent catastrophic events and fatalities. It will support continuous improvement and help foster and strengthen a corporate safety culture
In parallel, ICMM is also working to develop a conformance protocol to support either self-assessments or third-party assessments of progress with implementing the Standard.
Effort and support from government, banks and insurers is required to ensure operators adhere to the standard.
ALL PARTY PARLIAMENTARY GROUP FOR CRITICAL MINERALS
Thanks to David Livingstone and Darryn Quayle for helping to organise this event!
Thanks to Steve and the Officers of the APPG Critical Minerals for supporting this important issue!