MAC’s tailings management requirements strengthened

by Keith Powell
Picture of man wearing hi-vis vest and hardhat, standing on hill with mountains in background.

Progress has been made in strengthening the tailings management requirements under MAC’s mandatory Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) initiative. — Photo courtesy

Progress has been made in strengthening the tailings management requirements under MAC’s mandatory Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) initiative. In June, MAC’s Board of Directors accepted several amendments to the TSM Tailings Management Protocol based on recommendations that were informed by internal and external reviews.

Immediately following the Mount Polley tailings incident in August 2014, MAC’s Tailings Working Group initiated a full review of the tailings management components under TSM. In March 2015, MAC went a step further, striking an independent Task Force to perform an external review. The purpose of these reviews was to ensure that TSM’s requirements and guidance continued to reflect best practices in the safe operation and management of tailings facilities. In November 2015, the Task Force submitted its final report to MAC’s Board, containing 29 recommendations to strengthen the protocol and accompanying guides – all of which were accepted by the Board.

This first round of changes address a number of the priority recommendations of the Task Force’s report, and introduce additional changes that were identified during MAC’s internal review process.

Highlights of the new changes include:

  • Stronger audit requirements.
  • Action plans that outline how mines will achieve the minimum good practice performance level, which will be published in the annual TSM Progress Report.
  • Ensuring that tailings management policy and commitments are communicated effectively and are well understood by employees with direct and indirect responsibility for the safety of tailings facilities.
  • Elevating responsibility for tailings management to the highest level of the company (i.e. Board of Directors).

The development of these amendments involved experts on TSM and tailings management. MAC’s independent Community of Interest Advisory Panel also provided valuable input on how to address the Task Force’s recommendations. The Task Force has been notified of the changes made via an open letter from MAC and will be kept apprised of how MAC is progressing in addressing all of the remaining recommendations to the protocol and tailings guides. A second round of changes is expected to be brought to the MAC Board for decision in November 2016.

Source: The Mining Story newsletter: The Mining Association of Canada.

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