Australia miners pool expertise to improve tailings management

Australia’s minerals industry is looking to confront the tailings management issues that have plagued the global industry in recent years with the release of the Australian Mining Tailings Communique.

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) will support the communique, developed by MCA member companies after a workshop earlier this year, with a program of training, research and governance actions currently in development, it said.

Opportunities will be identified to build industry expertise and enhance technical capacity on tailings management for the minerals workforce, the MCA added.

“Tragic incidents around the world over the past decade reinforce the need for ongoing vigilance, review and change and raise legitimate questions about tailings management practices from governments, investors and the community,” the council said.

Australia’s minerals industry met earlier this year to review governance, culture and risk management for tailings storage facility management.

While the MCA said current tailings management practices in Australia are “highly regulated and at the forefront of global best practice”, it said the industry is committed to continual improvement as part of its culture of safe and responsible resource development.

This saw the companies, develop a list of actions to take on. This included:

  • Communicate and engage – communicate and engage with the community including government and other key stakeholders on our approach to tailings management in a transparent manner to build community confidence;
  • Leadership, governance and systems – assess and identify key elements of corporate leadership, culture, systems and governance to proactively manage tailings risks and share information;
  • Share leading practice – continue to actively share and promote industry leading practice and lessons learned in Australia and overseas from all industries;
  • Build industry expertise – identify opportunities to enhance industry capacity in key technical aspects of tailings management; and
  • Engage internationally – offer Australian expertise to help build global initiatives on tailings management including the development of, and alignment to, standards and guidelines.

The MCA says it will develop a program of work to reflect the above actions by the end of 2019.

“There is no room for complacency and honest and transparent communication and engagement with the workforce, host communities, governments, investors and other stakeholders is central to the industry’s approach,” it said.