Tailings management has long been an issue for the mining industry, with tailings dam failures occurring at a rate of around four to five times per year for at least the last 40 years.
However it was only a couple of years ago that the first industry-wide effort was launched to assess and mitigate the risks.
The January 2019 Brumadinho disaster, where a Valeowned tailings dam collapsed in Brazil, killing 270 people, was the turning point.
It led to the creation of the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management, which was published in 2020 following a lengthy review process involving investors, governments, multinational organisations and major mining companies.
This was accompanied by the creation of the Global Tailings Portal, the world's first public database of tailings storage facilities.
The database aims to help operators and stakeholders understand the main risk factors associated with TSFs.
It provides detailed information on facilities, including raise type, storage capacity, maximum height and hazard categorisation (measured in terms of consequence of failure).
This report presents our analysis of the database alongside opinions from tailings experts. It also profiles a number of businesses specialising in the design, implementation, and monitoring of tailings facilities.
We believe the innovative solutions provided by these and other businesses will help to improve the safety of tailings facilities.