VANCOUVER (Reuters) – The world’s largest mining trade group said on Monday it has concerns with global standards for mining waste dams being crafted by an independent panel of academics and engineers, especially how the new rules will apply equally to new and existing facilities.
The public lobbying of an ostensibly neutral process is likely to rankle environmentalists, indigenous groups and others who have long demanded miners do more to bolster safety at tailings dams, which are used to store the muddy detritus of the mining process and can be dozens of meters high.
Public trust in the industry has plunged since a Brazil tailings dam owned by Vale SA collapsed last January, killing hundreds.
An eight-person panel backed by the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) released draft standards for tailings dams last Friday.
“There are things in there which we may feel are tough to implement, practically,” Aidan Davy, ICMM’s chief operating officer, told the Tailings and Mine Waste 2019 Conference in Vancouver. “There’s still some way to go before ICMM can endorse the final standard.”