Australian miners looking to improve on tailings management

One of Australia’s tailings dams failures took place at Newcrest’s Cadia mine in New South Wales in 2018. This photo of the incident was courtesy of Newcrest Mining.

The Australian mining industry issued the Australian Mining Tailings Communiqué, which aims at guiding the next steps towards building industry expertise and enhancing technical capacity on tailings management.

In a press release, the Minerals Council of Australia explained that the communiqué was developed by member companies after a workshop on the topic that took place earlier this year and where training, research and governance actions started to be developed.

“Tragic incidents around the world over the past decade reinforce the need for ongoing vigilance, review and change,” the communiqué states

“Australian minerals companies are working together to assess tailings management systems and approaches to highlight leading practice and identify areas for sharing and further improvement,” the communiqué reads. “This contribution should ensure that the global minerals industry rises to the challenge of having the best possible systems, culture and technology, while remaining vigilant and ready to respond quickly and effectively.”

According to the Council, even though tailings management is advanced and highly regulated in the country, it is important to guard against complacency and engage in continuous improvement.

This is why companies will work together in five key areas, namely communication and engagement with the community, including government and other key stakeholders; leadership, governance and systems to be able to identify key elements of corporate leadership, culture, systems and governance to proactively manage tailings risks; sharing of leading practice locally and globally; building industry expertise; and engaging internationally by offering Australian expertise to help build global initiatives on tailings management including the development of standards and guidelines.

The MCA is expected to develop a program of work that reflects the proposed actions by the end of 2019.

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