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Tailings Management

Tailings impoundments are necessary components of mining activity and it is crucial that they be managed responsibly to protect human safety and the environment.  

The Tailings Management protocol goes beyond adherence to technical standards and contains five performance indicators. These indicators are designed to confirm whether a facility has implemented a system for responsible tailings management. This protocol seeks to ensure that facilities have a formal policy in place, have developed and implemented a tailings management system, have assigned accountability to the CEO or COO of the company, and have developed operation, maintenance and surveillance manuals for all tailings impoundments. Facilities must also conduct annual reviews of their management system and report the results of this evaluation to the accountable executive officer to meet the requirements of this protocol.

Together with our members, MAC has developed guides that are used around the world, outlining how mining companies can safely manage tailings facilities by adhering to best practices in tailings management.

TSM Tailings Management Protocol

Following the Mount Polley tailings dam failure, MAC initiated internal and external reviews of the TSM Tailings Management Protocol and accompanying guides.  In March 2015, MAC struck an independent Task Force to perform the external review, which spent 6 months reviewing the protocol and guides to ensure they meet best practice. In November 2015, the Task Force submitted its final report to MAC’s Board of Directors, which contained 29 recommendations to strengthen the protocol and guides.  The MAC Board accepted all of the recommendations and directed the association to expeditiously identify how to implement them. 

In June 2016, the MAC Board approved several changes designed to implement the Task Force’s recommendations. On June 28, MAC issued a letter to the Task Force with an update on progress made.  A second batch of changes is expected to be brought to the MAC Board for decision in November 2016.  A second letter to the Task Force was issued on December 19, 2016, which summarized the additional changes that were approved by the MAC Board in November 2016.