In response to the tailings dam failure at Vale's Corrego do Feijão mine in Brumadinho, Brazil, at the beginning of this year, ICMM announced it was putting together an independent panel of experts to develop an international standard for the safe management of tailings storage facilities (TSFs).
The ICMM is being supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) in carrying out a global tailings review that will be used as the basis of the standard.
Now, Dr Bruno Oberle, chair of the global tailings review, has given details of its scope and the next steps in the process.
"There are technical issues. There are management issues. There are the ways in which the population are informed. There are questions about how to insure this type of risk. We don't know yet where the main accent will be at the end of the process. What we know is we want to ask all relevant questions," he explained.
The work is divided into three phases: a research phase, which includes engagement with communities living and working near TSFs and evaluation of best practices; a consultation phase that will focus on the standard draft documents published at the end of phase one; and the final phase, where Dr Oberle will look at the consultation responses and develop the international standard and a report by the end of 2019.
The standard and report, aiming to outline broader recommendations to support uptake of the standard, should be ready for publishing in early 2020.
For next two months, Dr Oberle will visit TSF sites around the world, collecting feedback from a wide range of groups.
To start off with, he will travel to Brazil to meet people affected by the recent disaster at Brumadinho, where the tailings dam failure resulted in 246 fatalities with 24 people still missing, and by the 2015 Samarco incident that caused 19 deaths and widespread environmental destruction.
The detailed scope of the global tailings review is available here.