Swiss expert to start work on new standards for mining dam safety – by Barbara Lewis (Reuters U.S. – June 9, 2019)

LONDON (Reuters) – A Swiss environmental expert will make a fact-finding trip this week to the site of the Vale dam disaster in Brazil to start work on setting new dam safety standards for miners.

The safety of dams used to store mining waste, known as tailings, gained prominence after the collapse of Vale’s dam at Brumadinho, Brazil in January that killed about 250 people. It was the second Vale tailings dam collapse in Brazil in less than four years.

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) said in March it was working on new standards with the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) and ethical investors’ body the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).

Mining firms also say they are addressing the issue. BHP has set up a tailings task force after a dam owned by its Samarco venture with Vale burst in 2015.

Bruno Oberle, a former Swiss minister who worked for Switzerland’s environment agency, said the ICMM had picked someone outside the industry to oversee the initiative.

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