Global Mineral Professionals Alliance launches tailings initiative

Tailings slush near the town of Brumardinho where Vale’s dam collapsed. Photo by Jeso Carneiro, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0.

The Global Mineral Professionals Alliance (GMPA) announced the launch of the Global Action on Tailings initiative, aimed at dealing with the challenges around mine waste, particularly tailings.

The GMPA is an organization comprised of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy; the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum; the Peruvian Institute of Mining Engineers; the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining; the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, and the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploitation.

During a meeting held in Denver, Colorado, the members of the Alliance agreed on the urgency of examining tailings from the perspective of disposal and closure, as well as of advancing discussions related to tailings management, tailings reprocessing/repurposing and ultimately, moving towards tailings elimination.

GMPA members want to address the significant challenges associated with tailings management at existing impoundments.

“Today, tailings management is the most pressing issue facing the minerals sector,” Janice Zinck, President of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum, said in a media statement. “Collectively, the GMPA has thousands of experts in all aspects of mining and milling relating to tailings generation, reprocessing and management, making its members well-poised to address this complex topic from a scientific, fact-based perspective.”

According to the GMPA, those involved in the initiative are going to form working groups to address the different topics at hand. Some of the units will focus on data collection, others on dissemination of existing best practices, and others on gathering case studies and research. Each work will be documented on the GMPA Global Action on Tailings website.

“This important initiative will help us apply expertise and knowledge to address this significant challenge,” said Serena Best, President of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, known as IOM3. “IOM3’s members have significant experience in these issues and the Institute itself holds an immense amount of research material from across the world on all aspects of tailings management,” she added.

All the organizations involved in the initiative have said that they will establish tailings teams.

Mining companies, professional groups, industry organizations, and academics have expressed renewed interest in tailings management following the disaster that took place in late January at Vale’s Corrego do Feijão operation, where a tailings dam collapsed, killing more than 300 people.

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