November 2020
Volume 72    Issue 11

Meeting the global standard on tailings: Challenges, tools and rewards

Mining Engineering , 2020, Vol. 72, No. 11, pp. 30-30
Bolton, Robin


The mining community was shocked and devastated by the Brumadinho mining disaster in 2019. Mudflow from the tailings dam’s failure resulted in vast property and environmental damage and 270 deaths, an incalculable loss.

Angelica Amanda Andrade lost her sister, Natalia, in the tragedy. Angelica knew that some employees had seen warning signs, but they were ignored, partially due to lax standards. In the aftermath, the community suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and respiratory issues. Andrade spoke in front of the global mining community on Aug. 5 about the need for the new Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management.

The mining industry needs to adapt quickly to meet the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management and to prevent further tragedy. Unfortunately, there is a wide variation between mines. While some have embraced digitization, others continue to rely on analog methods. This means investing in new technologies as well as rethinking operations.

Though most have welcomed the standard, operators will likely struggle due to the difficulty of changing designs, operating standards and implementation cost. But, by using governance, risk management and compliance (GRC) technology, mines can proactively manage risk, beyond what is explicitly required by the Global Tailings Review — and gain a holistic view of risk. Ultimately, the new Global Industry Standard aims to maintain the environment, safeguard the community around a mine, and increase return on investment.

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