2008 – Towards responsible management of tailings facilities

Elizabeth Gardiner, Len Murray, David Gladwin

Abstract: The Mining Association of Canada has worked over the past 12 years to improve the management of tailings facilities. This effort began out of a realization that tailings present a major business risk to the mining industry, and that a series of major tailings failures around the world in the 1990’s were fundamentally indicative of need for improved care and management practices by tailings dam and facility owners and operators. MAC established and continues to sponsor the Tailings Working Group, which has assisted in development and publication of a three-volume set of guides to improve tailings management:

•“A Guide to the Management of Tailings Facilities”, initially published in 1998, updated edition published in 2008;

•“Developing an Operation, Maintenance and Surveillance Manual for Tailings and Water Management Facilities”, published in 2003; and

•“A Guide to Audit and Assessment of Tailings Facility Management”, published in 2008.
The three guides provide a strong message that the key to safe and environmentally responsible management of tailings is consistent application of sound engineering capability within an effective management framework.

The documents are almost directly applicable to all forms of dams and are widely used for water dams. Also, because the documents are available in Spanish and French they have found wide use in International projects.

A brief comparison with published ANCOLD guidelines is provided.

Keywords: Management of tailings facilities and water dams, Operation, Maintenance and Surveillance, Auditing, risk, safety, guides

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