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Independent Task Force on Towards Sustainable Mining’s Tailings Management System Tables Report and Recommendations with MAC Board

MAC Board commits to “expeditiously identify how best to integrate the recommendations” 

The Mining Association of Canada (MAC) has received the final report of the independent Task Force it commissioned to review its tailings management requirements and guidance under its Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) initiative.

The seven-member, multi-interest Task Force was struck in March 2015 to advise MAC’s Board of Directors on steps that could be taken to further strengthen the association’s tailings management system. Chaired by Doug Horswill, retired senior executive with Teck Resources Limited, the Task Force worked over the past several months to review MAC’s three tailings management guides and the TSM initiative’s tailings management performance indicators. The report includes 29 recommendations that the Task Force believes would enhance the tailings management requirements under the TSM initiative.

“The MAC Board thanks the Task Force for its review and has directed the TSM Governance Team, a Board subcommittee, to expeditiously identify how best to integrate the recommendations of the report into TSM for implementation,” stated Bob Steane, Chair of the MAC Board. “The Board has signaled, as well, that MAC should focus on the priority recommendations in the first instance, and that consultation with MAC’s TSM Community of Interest Advisory Panel be undertaken. It is imperative that the industry continuously improves how it works to ensure the safe operation of its tailings facilities.”

“The Task Force’s recommendations were developed with the objective of assisting the mining industry in its drive to the goal of zero failures,” stated Doug Horswill. “It is our hope as Task Force members that this report sets out measures which, when incorporated into the tailings management component of TSM, will promote continual improvement in company performance and help restore public confidence through the knowledge that MAC’s member companies are doing all that they can to protect public safety and the environment.”

In January 2015, the Mount Polley Independent Expert Panel, which examined the cause of the Mount Polley tailings dam failure, tabled its report with Government of British Columbia. The panel made seven recommendations, one of which was to require all mining companies in BC to subscribe to the TSM tailings management system, which is mandatory for MAC members and which the Panel described as a global best practice. Notwithstanding this statement, the MAC Board believed that, in light of the Mount Polley failure, it was necessary to undertake an independent review of the TSM system and identify opportunities for further improvements.

“As a civil society representative on the Task Force, I want to commend MAC for undertaking this important review,” added Alan Young, Director of the Materials Efficiency Research Group.  “The Task Force’s work was very thorough and I am confident we have come up with recommendations that will not only enhance safety, but also strengthen the industry’s engagement with communities on these important issues. I look forward to seeing MAC and its member companies take the next step to implement our recommendations.”

TSM is a mandatory program for MAC members, and its requirements go well beyond regulatory obligations. It is designed to improve industry’s operational performance in key environmental and social areas, including tailings management, and it includes third-party verification of reported results. A major component of TSM includes commitments to ensure the safe operation and management of tailings. In fact, one of the main drivers behind the development of TSM in the late 1990s was to ensure tailings dam safety through strong tailings management practices. Since TSM’s launch in 2004, MAC members have made steady improvement in this area.

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About MAC

The Mining Association of Canada is the national organization for the Canadian mining industry.  Its members account for most of Canada’s production of base and precious metals, uranium, diamonds, metallurgical coal, mined oil sands and industrial minerals and are actively engaged in mineral exploration, mining, smelting, refining and semi-fabrication. Please visit

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