Rio Tinto discloses tailings dam details

In the wake of the deadly Feijão tailings dam failure, Rio Tinto has released information on its tailings facilities and announced that it will review its global TSF standard
Rio Tinto discloses tailings dam details Rio Tinto discloses tailings dam details Rio Tinto discloses tailings dam details Rio Tinto discloses tailings dam details Rio Tinto discloses tailings dam details

Energy Resources of Australia's tailings dam in the Northern Territory, Australia. Photo: Rio Tinto

The global standard, which was introduced in August 2015, was created to ensure that all of Rio Tinto's tailings facilities are operated in accordance with one standard and that risks are actively managed.

"This standard sets out a structured three-stage approach, underpinned by Rio Tinto's safety management system, and an external audit programme," said Rio Tinto chief executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques.

"In light of this tragic event, Rio Tinto is again reviewing its global standard and, in particular, assessing how we can further strengthen the existing external audit of facilities.

"We fully support the need for greater transparency, which is why … we disclosed detailed information on our tailing facilities and how they are actively managed. We will add to this over time."

The miner published details of its 100 tailings and large water storage facilities spread across 32 sites worldwide, as well as a further 36 tailings facilities that are closed or being rehabilitated. Out of the 100 facilities, 21 are upstream ones - the same construction as the Feijão dam. Indeed, Brazil's national mining agency, Agência Nacional de Mineração, has now implemented a ban on new upstream tailings dams, with existing ones to be removed by 2021.

However, since the establishment of the global safety standard, and its work as part of the ICMM working committee on tailings storage facility governance, Rio Tinto said it has improved its tailings-management approach.

This includes the establishment of a Surface Mining Centre of Excellence Tailings team to provide technical expertise, ownership of the technical content of the global tailings safety standard and a second line of assurance in undertaking technical risk reviews of its facilities; as well as the development of training modules on the leading practices for safe tailings management to provide specific training for the tailings dam operators on a regular basis

"The entire industry has a responsibility to do better, and Rio Tinto is committed to play its part in any industry response, including an independent expert review," Jacques said.