Public consultation launched on global tailings dam standards – by Barbara Lewis (Reuters U.S. – November 15, 2019)

LONDON (Reuters) – A six-week public consultation launched on Friday will help set global standards to improve mining safety, aiming to prevent any repeat of the Vale tailings dam disaster in Brazil that killed 300 people in January.

Tailings dams are the most common waste disposal methods for mining companies, whether they’re extracting iron ore, gold or copper. They can tower dozens of meters high and stretch for several kilometers.

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) said in March it was working on new safety standards with the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) and ethical investors’ body the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) following the collapse of Vale’s dam at Brumadinho.

Bruno Oberle, who previously worked for the Swiss environment agency and is leading the review, said the aim was to decide on standards next year.

The consultation will include an online survey that has been translated into seven languages. “It is vital that we continue to learn and understand what must be done to eliminate tailings facility failures,” Oberle said. He is visiting different countries and communities to gather all relevant points of view, he said.

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