The voice oF the Canadian Mining Industry Since 1935

Environmental Stewardship: Aggregate Performance

Through TSM, mining operations have access to best practices in tailings management and biodiversity conservation management and are evaluated on their performance in these areas. TSM helps to ensure that mining operations manage their tailings facilities responsibly to protect human safety and the environment. Mining facilities must also adopt management systems and set targets to limit impacts to local biodiversity and are encouraged to collaborate with local conservation groups to improve outcomes.

Tailings Management

The current TSM Tailings Management Protocol is designed to go beyond adherence to technical standards and to ensure responsible tailings management. In order to achieve a Level A or higher in this protocol, facilities must demonstrate adherence to the tailings management guides. This includes having a policy in place, in addition to demonstrating commitment, to responsibly manage tailings. Achieving a Level A or higher also includes implementing a robust tailings management system, in addition to operation, maintenance, and surveillance activities. This is necessary to ensure effective implementation through conducting annual reviews of tailings management performance and assigning accountability for tailings management to the most senior officer of the company (e.g., the CEO). Detailed criteria for each performance level can be found in the TSM Tailings Management Protocol. 

The aggregate 2018 results demonstrate strong performance across the five indicators in this protocol. Notable improvements have been made in Indicator 3 (assigned accountability and responsibility) and Indicator 4 (annual tailings management review). In 2017, there was a drop in performance in these two areas that was partially due to facilities that were new to TSM still working to align their systems with the program. Additionally, seven facilities (including six closed facilities) that previously reported Level As were downgraded to Level Cs for Indicator 3 and Level Bs for Indicator 4 during external verification.  Now, each of the indicators shows at least 90% of facilities at Level A or higher, with almost all of the sites that had dropped to level C returning to Level A after taking corrective action. 

Percentage of Facilities at a Level A or Higher – 2006, 2017 and 2018
Level A Level AA Level AAA
Tailings management policy and commitment
46%

2006

94%

2017

91%

2018

Tailings management system
40%

2006

94%

2017

94%

2018

Assigned accountability and responsibility
60%

2006

73%

2017

94%

2018

Annual tailings management review
54%

2006

71%

2017

96%

2018

Operation, maintenance and surveillance (OMS) manual
49%

2006

94%

2017

98%

2018

100%

90%

80%

70%

60%

50%

40%

30%

20%

10%

0%

In 2018, MAC finalized a comprehensive review of the TSM Tailings Management Protocol and associated guidance documents, which involved both internal and external experts. The review has resulted in enhanced criteria throughout the five indicators in this protocol. MAC is phasing-in public reporting against the revised protocol and guides, with the first round of public reporting on the updated criteria set to begin in 2020. The updated Tailings Management Protocol, A Guide to the Management of Tailings Facilities (the Tailings Guide), Developing an Operation, Maintenance and Surveillance Manual for Tailings and Water Management Facilities (the OMS Guide) and the phase-in schedule for the updated Protocol can be found here

Biodiversity Conservation Management

Adopting best practices in biodiversity conservation management through all stages of a mine’s life cycle is an industry priority. The TSM Biodiversity Conservation Management Protocol evaluates and confirms a facility’s commitment to biodiversity conservation. Facilities that achieve Level A performance in this Protocol engage with key communities of interest – government, Aboriginal communities and conservation organizations – to develop biodiversity objectives and strategies. They also put in place mechanisms to assess, mitigate and compensate for impacts on biodiversity. Detailed criteria for each performance level can be found in the TSM Biodiversity Conservation Management Protocol.

MAC members have continued to make significant improvements since 2012, the first year of public reporting for this Protocol. On an aggregate basis, the results for all three indicators have improved since 2017, with 70% of facilities achieving Level A or higher across the three indicators. There has also been a steady increase in the percent of facilities achieving Level AA and AAA since the Protocol was first introduced. 

Percentage of Facilities at a Level A or Higher – 2013, 2017 and 2018
Level A Level AA Level AAA
Commitment, accountability and communications
58%

2013

75%

2017

85%

2018

Conservation planning and implementation
50%

2013

70%

2017

74%

2018

Reporting
53%

2013

67%

2017

76%

2018

100%

90%

80%

70%

60%

50%

40%

30%

20%

10%

0%

Pin It on Pinterest