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Tailings Guide

A Guide to the Management of Tailings Facilities (the Tailings Guide) is designed to be applied by MAC members and non-MAC members alike, anywhere in the world. The Tailings Guide, first released in 1998, provides guidance on responsible tailings management, helps companies develop and implement site-specific tailings management systems, and improves consistency of application of engineering and management principles to tailings management.

Implementation of the Tailings Guide is supported by implementing site-specific operation, maintenance, and surveillance (OMS) manuals. Refer to MAC’s Developing an Operation, Maintenance, and Surveillance Manual for Tailings and Water Management Facilities (the OMS Guide) for further information.

The third edition of the Tailings Guide, released in 2017, retained and updated a strong emphasis on management systems, and strengthened technical components, especially those critical to the physical and chemical stability of tailings facilities. Version 3.1 of the Tailings Guide, released in early 2019, strengthened guidance on emergency preparedness.

Version 3.1 of the Tailings Guide can be downloaded here:

For MAC members applying Towards Sustainable Mining® (TSM®), there is a transition period for implementation of the third edition and subsequently Version 3.1 of the Tailings Guide. For more information on the transition period, please see Description of Phase-in of Updates to the Tailings Management Component of TSM.

Until this transition period is complete, the second edition (2011) and the third edition (2017) of the Tailings Guide remain available for download:

The Tailings Guide includes an implementation checklist that can be used to help in developing site-specific tailings management systems. Completing the checklist can help identify gaps and deficiencies in tailings management. The checklist is available in Microsoft Excel, allowing users flexibility in adapting the checklist to their specific sites.

For new tailings facilities and for facilities undergoing mine life extensions, the Tailings Guide recommends using a rigorous approach to selection of the most appropriate tailings management technology and facility location. This should be done very early in the life cycle, at the conceptual planning phase of the facility, using the decision-making approach described in Appendix 3 of the Tailings Guide. Further information is available in the following documents: