Guidelines on Tailings Dams – Planning, Design, Construction, Operation and Closure (May 2012)


ANCOLD produced their Guidelines on Tailings Dam Design, Construction and Operation in 1999. Since that time the publication has been widely used within Australia and internationally where the expertise of Australian practice has been recognised.

In the ten years since the release these Guidelines there has been considerable increase in the recognition of environmental responsibilities by the mining industry and its regulators, particularly in addressing the concept of sustainable mining. This has culminated in Australia with the release of “Tailings Management” one of a series of publications outlining Leading Practice Sustainable Development Program for the Mining Industry published by the Australian Government Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources (DITR).

ANCOLD has prepared these new guidelines to provide a single base document that supports the DITR publication and others like it, with engineering detail that can be accepted by all relevant government authorities, and national and international companies involved in tailings dam development, allowing them to undertake design and construction consistent with leading industry practice. The new guidelines include much of the original guidelines but with appropriate updating. There is considerable new information on designing for closure and on the use of risk assessment techniques to assist in design and management.

These guidelines are not a design, construction or operation code, and dams personnel must continue to apply their own considerations, judgements and professional skills when designing and managing tailings dams. As time goes on there will no doubt be improvement in contemporary tailings dam practice and it is intended that these guidelines will be updated as circumstances dictate. ANCOLD welcomes comments on these guidelines which will assist with future revisions.