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Mineral professionals come together to push global tailings initiative


March 7, 2019  


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In light of the global challenges faced around mine waste, particularly tailings, the Global Mineral Professionals Alliance (GMPA) will undertake the Global Action on Tailings initiative, announced at a recent GMPA meeting.

“Today, tailings management is the most pressing issue facing the minerals sector,” said Janice Zinck, president of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM). “Collectively, the GMPA has thousands of experts in all aspects of mining and milling relating to tailings generation, reprocessing and management, making its members well-poised to address this complex topic from a scientific, fact-based perspective.”

The GMPA is a collaborative partnership between leading professional organizations for minerals internationally – with this year’s meeting held in Denver, Col., in conjunction with the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (SME) Annual Conference and Expo in February.

In addition to examining tailings from the perspective of disposal and closure, the initiative will seek to advance discussions and solutions relating to tailings management, tailings reprocessing/repurposing and ultimately, moving towards tailings elimination.

“Over the next several months, GMPA organizations will collaborate on this initiative to develop working groups that can effectively address the significant challenges associated with tailings management at existing impoundments, as well as focusing on the need to reduce and ultimately, eliminate the use of conventional surface tailings storage facilities,” added Prof. Hugh Miller, president of SME. “As a Society, we have tremendous technical capacity to confront these challenges through our members and fully recognize the need for global collaboration to make substantive change.”

Data collection, dissemination of existing best practices, case studies and research through a forthcoming GMPA Global Action on Tailings website is part of a multi-pronged approach to address challenges surrounding tailings.

“IOM3’s members have significant experience in these issues and the Institute itself holds an immense amount of research material from across the world on all aspects of tailings management,” said Prof. Serena Best, president of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3). “This important initiative will help us apply expertise and knowledge to address this significant challenge.”

Janine Herzig, president of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, endorsed the Global Action on Tailings initiative, stating that January’s Brumadinho dam disaster in Brazil was a tragedy.

“Australasia is respected as a world leader in best practice health, safety, community and environmental standards through a robust regulatory framework informed by sought-after mining health and safety experts,” said Herzig. “AusIMM continues to be committed to educating and promoting world class standards and investing in the capability of professionals in the industry, ensuring that all those who work in the resources sector continue to be safe and healthy.”

Tailings teams will be established in each of the participating GMPA organizations. Experts on all aspects of tailings management and processing will be engaged in addressing this issue.

“The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy fully supports this important initiative,” said Alastair Macfarlane, president of SAIMM. “Recent events have galvanized focus on the design, placement and management of waste storage facilities, while at the same time emphasizing the need for research to reduce the need for such facilities. The sharing of global knowledge in these efforts is essential – not only to pool global knowledge – but also to prevent sub-optimization on a local basis.”

SAIMM will hold a Tailings Storage conference in October to emphasize support for the initiative in a Southern African context.

A GMPA think tank event will be held in Arequipa, Peru, in September, in conjunction with PERUMIN – Convención Minera.

“IIMP is delighted to host the inaugural Global Action on Tailings event in Arequipa this coming September,” said Antonio Samaniego, former president of the Peruvian Institute of Mining Engineers (IIMP).

The GMPA also hopes to work collaboratively with the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), which recently announced its intention to establish an independent panel of experts to develop an international standard for tailings facilities for its member companies.


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