MAC releases second edition of tailings and water management guide

The Mining Association of Canada has released its second edition of the Developing an Operation, Maintenance and Surveillance Manual for Tailings and Water Management facilities (the OMS Guide) which was first released in 2003.

MAC also released version 3.1 of A Guide to the Management of Tailings Facilities (the Tailings Guide). This publication was first issued in 1998 and the third edition was made available in 2017. The newly updated version 3.1 provides stronger and more detailed guidance for emergency preparedness.

The recent collapse of the tailings dam at the Brumadinho iron mine in Brazil underscores the urgent need for effective tailings management. The revised OMS Guide and updated Tailings Guide have an important role in ensuring that an important aspect of mining is done in the most responsible way.

“Our industry understands the great responsibility that comes with ensuring tailings are being managed in the most effective way, and MAC’s revised OMS Guide represents an important step in the continual improvement of tailings management. Implementing the Tailings Guide and the OMS Guide together provides a comprehensive framework to optimize tailings facility performance and manage risk,” said Pierre Gratton, president and CEO of MAC.

The revised OMS Guide and updated Tailings Guide mark years of work done in relation to tailings management – partly in response to the 2014 failure of the tailings dam at the Mount Polley copper mine in British Columbia. The original review of that event by a MAC independent task force resulted in 29 recommendations, all of which have been acted on.

The revised OMS Guide provides strengthened guidance on the development of site-specific OMS manuals. Specifically, the second edition of the OMS Guide:

  • Provides a mechanism for the effective implementation of a tailings management system;
  • Provides a mechanism to meet tailings management performance objectives and manage risk; and
  • Supports effective decision making for responsible tailings management

This article first appeared in The Canadian Mining Journal.