Tag Archives: ICMM

Boliden joins the ICMM as it looks to bolster sustainable metal production

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) says Boliden, the Sweden-based producer of zinc, copper, nickel and more, has become its 28th company member.

In line with ICMM’s member admission process, Boliden underwent a rigorous independent assessment to ensure it adheres to ICMM’s Mining Principles. Based on the recommendation of the independent review panel, ICMM’s Council, represented by the CEOs of each company member, approved Boliden’s admission.

The Boliden Group is a leader in sustainable metal production. The company’s core competence is within the fields of exploration, mining, smelting and metals recycling with five mining units and five smelters across Sweden, Finland, Norway and Ireland. Boliden’s operations are dedicated to producing metals with a low carbon footprint, with a target of reducing its CO2 intensity by 40% by 2030 through decreasing its usage of fossil fuels and improving energy efficiencies.

Tom Butler, CEO of ICMM, said: “We are delighted to welcome Boliden to ICMM. We look forward to learning from their innovative and modern approach to sustainable metal production and their circular approach to resource management. They will bring new perspectives to ICMM, where partnership, innovation, knowledge sharing, and learning are integral to everything we do.”

Mikael Staffas, President and CEO of Boliden, said: “Our vision is to become the most climate friendly and respected metal provider in the world and the membership in ICMM is an important step in that direction. Our performance within sustainable metal production is strong already today, but we will continue to seek improvements and contribute to the aim of ICMM.”

By becoming a member, Boliden, the ICMM says, commits to ICMM’s Mining Principles which define good practice Environmental, Social and Governance requirements for the mining industry through a set of 38 performance expectations. They apply at asset level and include third-party assurance and validation. Applicable to all ICMM company members, they therefore apply to around 650 sites in 50 countries.

ICMM appoints Rohitesh Dhawan as new Chief Executive Officer

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) has announced the appointment of Rohitesh Dhawan as Chief Executive Officer, following a competitive global selection process, to succeed Tom Butler, who will step down on April 6, 2021.

Dhawan is a sustainability specialist with significant experience in the resources sector. His most recent role was as Managing Director and Head of the EMEA region at Eurasia Group, a geopolitical research and analysis firm, where he led the climate change and sustainability practice. Prior to this, Dhawan’s roles included Global Head of Sustainability for the Mining Sector and Global Strategy Director at KPMG International. He currently serves on the expert panel on climate change for the UK government’s Partnering for Accelerated Climate Transitions Programme (PACT).

Richard Adkerson, ICMM Chair and Chairman and CEO of Freeport-McMoRan, said: “I am pleased to welcome Rohitesh as CEO of ICMM. He brings a deep commitment to sustainable development, and strong on-the-ground experience. His extensive knowledge of the challenges and opportunities facing our industry will be invaluable as we work together to address some of the biggest issues facing our sector, and advancing important initiatives that reflect our collective commitment to continuous performance improvement.

“I would also like to recognise Tom’s outstanding contribution to ICMM over the last six years, and on behalf of the council, I would like to thank him for his leadership and commitment. I am looking forward to working with Rohitesh to build on the strong foundation that Tom leaves behind.”

On his appointment, Dhawan said: “I am excited to be joining ICMM in arguably the most important decade for the industry. The foundations of a net zero emissions economy are being laid now, and minerals are critical to it. But many environmental, social and governance challenges remain unresolved, and I can think of no better vehicle than ICMM to convene the necessary solutions. I’m delighted to be in service of an industry that touches all our lives, and to join an organisation that is united in the goal of achieving the highest possible standards of sustainability.”

Tom Butler, CEO of ICMM said: “It has been an immense privilege to lead ICMM. During my tenure we have tackled some key challenges, but much remains to be done. I am pleased to be handing the reins over to such a strong leader for the next phase. I want to take this opportunity to thank our members and everyone in the ICMM team for their sterling support over the last six years.”

Booyco Electronics to provide Otjikoto gold mine with ‘true collision avoidance system’

Proximity detection specialist Booyco Electronics says it is equipping 19 mechanised mining machines with its latest Booyco CXS proximity detection solution to enhance safety during the development phase of underground operations at B2Gold’s Otjikoto gold mine, in Namibia.

According to Anton Lourens, Booyco Electronics CEO, the order was placed by Murray & Roberts Cementation, one of the contractors establishing the underground stoping horizon for the Wolfshag zone at Otjikoto mine.

The contract also includes sensing devices for 120 underground personnel on the operation, which will be included in the employee’s cap lamp to provide an alarm.

“Our equipment will help achieve the highest level of safety by mitigating the risk of collisions between pedestrians and vehicles, and between vehicles, on this project,” Lourens says. “The installation of our CXS units is in line with the commitment by the mine and the contractor to zero harm in the workplace.”

The Cementation Lewcor JV contract will take 28 months. Lewcor Mining is a Namibian company with extensive mining experience in that country. The contract includes a decline of 5 m wide by 5.5 m high being driven to the orebody from a portal in one of Otjikoto’s depleted open pits. The operation will be highly mechanised, with equipment including drill rigs, dump trucks, LHDs and utility vehicles, as well as shotcreting and ancillary equipment.

Lourens highlights that Booyco Electronics’ latest generation CXS system is a comprehensive and integrated proximity detection solution, taking a step beyond being just a warning system to become a “true collision avoidance system”.

He added: “The CXS system on this project will deliver Level 7 and Level 8 capability in terms of the Earth Moving Equipment Safety Roundtable (EMESRT) and can also accommodate Level 9. Although there is not yet a legal requirement for collision avoidance systems in Namibia, our customer and the mine adopt a global best practice approach to all aspects of safety in mining operations.”

With the mine’s location more than 300 km north of Windhoek, it is important the equipment is robust and reliable to ensure maximum uptime, according to Lourens.

“To ensure that the equipment performs optimally, we have trained the customers’ artisans on how to look after it,” he said. “A qualified serviceman from Booyco Electronics will also visit the site regularly to audit performance, assess the equipment and conduct any necessary maintenance.”

Booyco Electronics’ home-grown technology has seen wide take-up in underground operations – both hard rock and coal – as well as in the open-cast environment, plants and warehouses, the company says. It now has a footprint of over 100 mining customers in South Africa, with this Namibia project part of a gradual expansion into other countries in Southern Africa.

Lourens says the use of collision avoidance systems is likely to keep increasing, as more miners adopt the EMESRT guidelines.

He concluded: “The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) is also an important stakeholder in this process. The ICMM highlights that transport and mobile equipment accidents were highest cause of fatalities at their members’ operations in 2018, accounting for 30% of fatalities.”

New ICMM reports reinforce mining’s role in economic development of host countries

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) has published two reports that highlight the contribution the mining industry makes to the economic development of host countries.

‘The Mining Contribution Index (MCI)’ and ‘ICMM Members’ Tax Contribution Report: 2019 Update’ demonstrate the pivotal role mining plays in many national economies, and the contribution it makes throughout commodity cycles, according to the ICMM.

The Mining Contribution Index (MCI): 5th Edition
This report shows that between 2016 and 2018, many of the world’s poorest countries relied on their income from mining as the primary driver of economic activity. As a result, 21 of the top 25 ranked countries in this edition qualify as “resource dependent” using the criteria applied in ICMM’s Social progress in mining-dependent countries report, it said.

Published every two years, the MCI ranks 183 countries from across the world according to the relative importance of mining to the economy of that country. The fifth edition saw seven new entrants to the top ranked 25 countries, with Suriname and the Democratic Republic of the Congo retaining the top spots. Across all five editions of the MCI, the top 25 remain dominated by low and middle-income economies.

Notably, six of the seven countries that dropped out of the top 25 in this edition were African, a contrast to the increase in African countries within the top 25 in the previous edition. These changes were due to a recovery in gross domestic product across the continent between 2016 and 2018, the ICMM said

“The fifth edition of the MCI confirms that many of the world’s most mining-dependent countries continue to rely on their natural resources as the primary driver of economic activity,” it said. “The Natural Resource Governance (NRGI) Institute’s Resource Governance Index rates 84% of the top 25 ranked countries in the MCI as weak, poor, or failing. It is therefore clear that there is more to do to ensure that mining’s contribution to national economies is maximised and that mineral wealth translates into broader-based economic and social progress.”

The ICMM Members’ Tax Contribution report: 2019 Update
This report, prepared by PwC, extends the dates covered by ICMM’s first Members’ Tax Contribution Report, to include 2018 and 2019. Over the full 2013-2019 commodity cycle, ICMM member survey participants reported corporate income tax (CIT) payments of $96.6 billion and royalty payments of $56.7 billion, totalling a contribution of 153.3 billion to public finances. During those seven years, for every $100 of profit before impairments, $39.40 was charged in corporate income tax and royalties, according to the report.

The 2019 update of the ICMM Members’ Tax Contribution report shows that after a decline in the first half of 2016, commodity prices recovered, and, together with general economic growth, led to an increase of tax and royalties. “However, even in 2016, when some members were making little to no profit, they still paid $5.5 billion in royalties, thus providing a dependable stream of revenue for host governments through the cycle,” the ICMM said.

In 2018 and 2019, the members of ICMM which completed the most recent survey reported total CIT and royalties of $25.5 billion and $26.8 billion, respectively, which was an increase from $17.3 billion in 2017.

Nicky Black, Director of Social and Economic Development at ICMM, said: “Taken collectively, both reports paint a picture of the contribution mining makes at a national level. We know from the Social progress in mining-dependent countries report that responsible mining can be transformative, leading to substantial reductions in levels of poverty and overall improvements in social wellbeing. Mining companies stimulate economic activity by providing exports, the revenue from which can be invested in education, healthcare, infrastructure and supporting government.”

She added: “ICMM members recognise that efficient, effective, transparent, and stable resource governance is critical in ensuring that mineral wealth translates into broad-based economic and social progress. Through these reports ICMM hopes to encourage evidence-based debate and focus attention on the vital role of effective mineral resource governance.”

Gold Fields to trial Caterpillar dual-fuel solution on haul trucks at Tarkwa mine

Gold Fields plans to test the use of LNG to power haul trucks in a trial at its Tarkwa open-pit gold mine in Ghana, CEO Nick Holland told attendees of the IMARC Online event this week.

Speaking on a panel reviewing progress of the Innovation for Cleaner, Safer Vehicles (ICSV) initiative – a supply chain collaboration between the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) – Holland said the trial would involve a mix of LNG and diesel fuel at the operation, and four trucks would initially be tested with the fuel combination in 2021.

Gold Fields later confirmed to IM that the trial would take place in the second half of 2021 and involve the use of Caterpillar’s dual-fuel LNG Dynamic Gas Blending (DGB) retrofit system on four of the mine’s Cat 785C 146 t payload dump trucks.

The DGB conversion kits, available on Cat 785C and 793D haul trucks, are a dual-fuel technology that enables miners to substitute diesel fuel with LNG, according to Cat. The use of LNG has been proven to reduce emissions by up to 30%, as well as lower costs by up to 30%, Cat says.

DGB vaporises liquid fuel into natural gas, then replaces diesel fuel with LNG when possible. On average, DGB replaces about 60-65% of diesel with LNG, according to Cat.

Tarkwa, which is 90% owned by Gold Fields, produced 519,000 oz of gold in 2019, 1% lower than the 525,000 oz produced in 2018. It employs Engineers & Planners Co Ltd as mining contractor.

While this trial will potentially lower the company’s carbon emissions – as will Gold Fields’ plan to fit “diesel filters” on all its machines underground in the next 12-18 months – Holland pointed to a much loftier long-term goal during the ICSV panel.

“The challenge to our teams and OEMs is to move away from diesel completely,” he said.

Such a move could see the company employ both battery-powered and hydrogen-powered solutions at its underground mines, he added.

More OEMs join the ICMM’s Innovation for Cleaner, Safer Vehicles initiative

The Innovation for Cleaner, Safer Vehicles (ICSV) initiative – a supply chain collaboration between the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) – has made significant progress towards understanding what is needed to transform today’s fleet of mining vehicles into tomorrow’s new generation of cleaner, safer vehicles, members of its CEO Advisory Group announced today at IMARC Online.

The ambitions of the ICSV initiative are to introduce greenhouse gas emission-free surface mining vehicles by 2040, minimise the operational impact of diesel exhaust by 2025 and make vehicle collision avoidance technology available to mining companies by 2025.

Two years on from announcing these ambitions, eight new OEMs have joined the initiative, taking the number of participating OEMs to 19, the ICMM said. This includes 3MTech, Behault, Future Digital communications, MTU, Miller Technologies, Miller Technologies, Nerospec, Newtrax and Torsa, the ICMM confirmed to IM.

ICMM members, representing around 30% of the global metals market with over 650 assets, have undertaken assessments to establish a clearer view of the progress made at site level towards each ICSV ambition. These assessments indicate ICMM members are generally at early stages of maturity in the journey, and show what progress will look like for each ambition, the ICMM said.

“This significant representation of industry can speak with an aligned voice, on aligned objectives with OEMs and third-party technology providers,” it added. “In its first two years, the ICSV initiative has achieved the critical step of sending strong signals to OEMs and third-party technology providers on their requirements, and on what is needed to accelerate development and adoption of technology across the industry.”

The initiative is led by a CEO Advisory Group comprising each leader of BHP, Anglo American, Gold Fields, Caterpillar, Komatsu and Sandvik, several members of which spoke today at IMARC Online about the collaborative model.

Nick Holland, Chief Executive, Gold Fields (and Chair of the CEO Advisory Group), said there was a critical need to advance work on cleaner, safer vehicles in mining, which will have important health and safety benefits and contribute towards the pressing need of decarbonising the mining industry.

“It is recognised that there are measures we can implement now, but other, more impactful, interventions are reliant on technology pathways that are still evolving,” he said. “This will undoubtedly take time, but the industry’s collaboration with OEMs, through the ICMM, is critical as we look for these long-term, sustainable and integrated solutions.”

Mike Henry, Chief Executive, BHP, added: “Safer, cleaner mining equipment is important for our people and the world. No one party can tackle this on their own though. The ICSV initiative brings together equipment manufacturers and ICMM members to accelerate the innovations required to improve equipment safety and reduce emissions. This is a great example of the collaborative industry-level effort that can help bring about the scale and pace of change that is needed.”

Denise Johnson, Group President, Caterpillar, said the OEM was committed to helping customers operate safely and sustainably, with the ICSV initiative helping it collaborate even more closely with the mining industry in these important areas.

“Its progress to date has helped to form a shared understanding of where the industry is on its journey and demonstrates that by working together we can more quickly accelerate the pace of change,” she said of the initiative.

Tom Butler, CEO, ICMM, added: “Partnership and collaboration fuels long-term sustainable development, and is crucial to addressing some of the mining industry’s biggest sustainability challenges. Progress made on the ICSV initiative has been building the widespread confidence needed to accelerate the level of innovation investment required to scale up commercial solutions. The initiative will benefit the entire industry and is open to all OEMs who would like to join.”

ICMM has developed tools to support the industry, OEMs and third-party technology providers to meet the initiative’s ambitions, it said. These tools include an ICSV Knowledge Hub that, the ICMM says, facilitates knowledge sharing of industry innovations, provides technical and practical resources including case studies, standards, regulations and a technology and solutions database.

Additionally, a set of “maturity frameworks” that help to “map, motivate and measure” progress against the ambitions have been published, with the intention to stimulate conversations within companies that drive thinking, decision making and action, it added.

In 2021, ICMM’s company members will focus on integrating the initiative’s goals into their corporate planning processes, allocating internal resources and effectively leveraging external resources such as synergies with other industry initiatives and collaboration between member companies, the ICMM said.

Decipher to help miners align with new tailings storage facility standards

Wesfarmers-owned software-as-a-service company, Decipher, says it has extended its successful TSF cloud platform to provide a solution to simplify the process of tailings storage facility (TSF) data disclosure as well as helping companies align with the new global tailings standard.

The recent Global Standard on Tailings Management was launched on the August 5, 2020. The historic agreement includes six topic areas, 15 principles and 77 auditable requirements, which covers the entire TSF lifecycle – from site selection, design and construction, management and monitoring, through to closure and post-closure.

With an ambition of zero harm to people and the environment, the standard significantly raises the bar for the industry to achieve strong social, environmental and technical outcomes by elevating accountability to the highest organisational levels and adds new requirements for independent oversight, Decipher says.

“These recent initiatives have encouraged mining companies to respond quickly to public demand for more transparency which has highlighted the need for a software solution which can improve tailings data management, reporting, monitoring, compliance and governance,” the company said.

This is where Decipher’s technology comes into play.

Decipher Chief Executive Officer, Anthony Walker, said the resources industry is actively seeking easily implemented, cost effective and globally accessible solutions.

“The early adoption from Tier 1 miners and general interest has been phenomenal indicating that there is a real need for a TSF data disclosure solution; it excites us that our technology platform can be leveraged to support better management and monitoring of tailings storage facilities,” he said.

Topic Area VI of the new standard requires operators to support public disclosure of information about tailings facilities, and participate in global initiatives to create standardised, independent, industry-wide and publicly accessible information about facilities. For example, the recent Investor Mining and Tailings Safety Initiative called upon 727 extractive mining companies to make public disclosures about their TSFs to form an independent global database – The Global Tailings Portal, developed by GRID-Arendal.

Due to manual processes, and often disparate and siloed datasets, mining operators have estimated it took them around six weeks per site to collate their tailings data, according to Decipher. “With many operators having well over 50 sites, this process is challenging and surfaced many inefficiencies,” it said.

After hearing these frustrations from the industry, Decipher designed a tailings database solution to help companies easily capture, manage and disclose tailings data, enabling them to meet data provision requests from industry groups such as the Investor Mining and Tailings Safety Initiative, it said.

Decipher has also been working closely with GRID-Arendal to create an API to facilitate automatic update of tailings data within the Decipher platform directly to the Global Tailings Portal.

“We believe this will significantly increase efficiency and provide a massive time savings for mining operators who choose to disclose regularly,” the company said.

Topic Area III of the standard aims to lift the performance bar for designing, constructing, operating, maintaining, monitoring, and closing facilities.

Recognising tailings facilities are dynamic engineered structures, this topic area requires the ongoing use of an updated knowledge base, consideration of alternative tailings technologies, and a comprehensive monitoring system.

“Decipher’s TSF solution is trusted by environmental, tailings, geotechnical and management teams globally to help improve monitoring, compliance, reporting, operational visibility and safety,” the company said. “The platform brings together data from laboratories, IoT devices, LiDAR, CCTV, drones, inspections and remotely-sensed platforms to serve users with up-to-date information to provide key data and insights, enabling teams to effectively monitor, govern and operate their TSFs.”

Armed with Decipher’s Tailings Database solution, Decipher says. customers can:

  • Comply and meet requests for data provision from industry groups such as COE, ICMM, UNEP, PRI, Global Tailings Review and more, with fields embedded for simple reporting and tracking;
  • Store an endless variety of tailings data in one location which is otherwise managed by a number of teams in disparate systems;
  • Operate with increased confidence knowing required data is being collected and monitored;
  • Easily visualise their operational TSF data on the map;
  • Cluster data into key areas such as safety, risk, compliance, construction, design, roles and responsibilities;
  • Assign actions and tasks for data collection with a register and audit trail of all actions and respective statuses to monitor progress, and reminder and escalation notifications;
  • View dam data across multiple sites in a single screen with the ability to easily export for reporting;
  • Facilitate automatic updates to databases and portals based on integration capabilities with third-party systems or public portals;
  • View spatial visualisation to display tailings dams in proximity to surrounding environment and communities;
  • Better align with standard such as the Global Tailings management; and
  • Access custom reports.

Decipher and K2fly team up for new tailings storage facility platform

Decipher, a Perth-based cloud monitoring platform for tailing storage facilities (TSFs), has partnered with K2fly, a global provider of technical assurance solutions for the resources industry, to evaluate an integrated monitoring and governance platform for tailings.

Tailing storage facility failures, in which there is an uncontrolled release of water, waste material or by-product, constitute a significant risk for industry, regulators and the environment. Industry best practice and legislation is requiring that an Independent Technical Review Board be assigned for each TSF to ensure proper governance and compliance, according to Decipher.

Decipher and K2Fly have come together to combine their complementary technology strengths to create a solution to help mining and resources companies in monitoring and governance of these risks, Decipher says.

Anthony Walker, Decipher Chief Executive Officer, said the resources industry is now looking for a solution that is cost effective, comprehensive and accessible.

“A recent report by KPMG identifies tailings management as one of the top 10 risks in 2020 to the global mining industry,” Walker said. “This is confirmation of the need for a timely solution which, together, Decipher and K2fly can provide.”

K2fly’s Chief Commercial Officer, Nic Pollock, said the proposed solution will ensure industry has access to a significantly better tool to aid monitoring and governance of TSFs to recognised standards.

“Our solution reflects best practice and will support compliance with the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management recently endorsed by the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), and other Global Tailings Review convenors, as well as standards set by national regulatory bodies,” Pollock said.

Decipher and K2fly have commenced discussions with several global miners about the proposed tailings management solution, which can also be deployed remotely during COVID-19.

There are an estimated 3,500 active TSFs globally, covering around 1 Mha of land, Decipher, a Wesfarmers company, said.

Corrego do Feijão tailings dam collapse leads to rise in fatalities: ICMM

The International Council on Mining and Metals’ (ICMM) latest safety data report from its member companies showed that there were 287 occupational fatalities in 2019, a marked increase from the 50 recorded in 2018 and 51 recorded in 2017.

The occupational fatality rate (calculated per one million hours worked) shows an increase from 0.022 in 2018 to 0.118 in 2019, while the overall injury rate decreased from 3.41 in 2018 to 3.20 in 2019, according to the ICMM. Sixteen company members recorded no fatalities in 2019, an increase from 11 members in 2018, it said.

ICMM said its members − which includes 27 of the world’s leading mining and metals companies − share an “unwavering commitment” to improving health and safety performance, towards a goal of zero harm.

To support this commitment, ICMM compiles, analyses, and publishes the safety data provided annually by company members. The full report, Safety Data: Benchmarking progress of ICMM company members in 2019, is available here.

Of the 287 occupational fatalities recorded, 250 occurred as a result of the catastrophic collapse of a tailings dam at Vale’s Corrego do Feijão mine in Brumadinho on January 25, 2019.

After structural failure, the second highest cause of fatalities was mobile equipment and transportation, which accounted for eight fatalities in 2019, seven fewer than the 15 fatalities recorded in 2018.

Tom Butler, CEO of ICMM, said: “One fatality is one too many. In 2019, 287 people lost their lives while at work, which is as a stark reminder that while the mining and metals industry has come a long way in improving how it operates, there is still much more to do to safeguard lives, improve performance and demonstrate transparency.

“Trust in our industry’s ability to operate safely was rightly questioned following the tragic Brumadinho dam collapse early last year, which claimed the lives of 270 people – 250 workers and 20 community members.

“Our members are committed to taking action, and the imminent publication of the Global Tailings Standard, which has been developed through an independent review co-convened by the United National Environment Programme, Principles for Responsible Investment and ICMM, will be a vital step towards improving the safety and security of tailings facilities, and rebuilding public trust in the sector.

“Monitoring and reporting on occupational health and safety indictors is an important aspect of driving performance improvement. In 2019, the second highest cause of fatalities was from mobile mining equipment and transportation. ICMM’s members are committed to accelerating investment in vehicle safety through our Innovation for Cleaner, Safer Vehicles program – a collaboration between ICMM members and original equipment manufacturers.”

The report also examined incidents by country. Company member operations in Brazil had the highest fatality rate of 0.83, recording 252 fatalities from some 303.6 million hours worked. Operations in South Africa recorded 10 fatalities and Zambia six, where 392.9 and 46.8 million hours were worked, respectively.

ICMM began collating and publishing company members’ safety data in 2012 with the aim of encouraging information and knowledge-sharing among members, and catalysing learning across the industry, it said. This platform of information sharing and learning has continued to support members through the challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic where the health and safety of workers and local communities is paramount.

Global tailings standards likely to ‘raise industry up’, SME delegates hear

The keynote session at the 2020 SME MineXchange Conference and Expo, in Phoenix, Arizona, acted as a display of just how far the industry has come in the battle to improve transparency and shore up environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices in the face of increased scrutiny over the security and safety of tailings dam facilities.

All speakers involved in the keynote session – representing Freeport McMoRan, The Mosaic Company, Newmont and CONSOL Energy – gave a rundown of how many tailings dam facilities they had on their books, how the operation of these dams had changed since recent high profile failures and what they were doing to improve further.

Yet, with the International Council in Mining & Metals (ICMM) nearing the release of its well-documented Global Tailings Review, the session also highlighted how the industry is wary of trying to apply all-encompassing tailings legislation.

Nancy Case, VP, Environment, Health & Safety for The Mosaic Company, revealed that the company has eight active dams, alongside five inactive dams in Brazil and, in New Mexico, it had five tailings management facilities (TMFs).

Since the Corrego do Feijão mine dam collapse just over a year ago, Case said the company had brought in fully-independent engineering firms that had never worked on any of the dams to evaluate the structures and monitoring procedures in place. In Brazil, the company had also amended its operations to fall in line with new regulations.

This process led to several dams being taken out of operation – with additional buttressing and full centreline work carried out where necessary.

Red Conger, President and COO of Americas for Freeport McMoRan, said tailings management was a big challenge the company acknowledged many decades ago.

He spoke about how the company was using technology such as wireless piezometers to monitor tailings dam levels at its operations. At the Bagdad mine, in Arizona, specifically, the company is also using a satellite radar system for monitoring purposes.

Daniel Connell, VP Business Development & Technology, took the technology talk one step further, explaining the company, in partnership with OMNIS Bailey, was working on an innovative technology to convert waste coal slurry into two products: a high-quality carbon product to be used as fuel or as a feedstock for other higher-value applications; and a mineral matter product with potential to be used as a soil amendment in agricultural applications.

The company has, so far, constructed a 2 t/h pilot plant at its Pennsylvania Mining Complex (PMC), and Connell said the company is looking to scale this up to a commercial installation that could not only reduce the amount of tailings the company stores at the facility, but also, potentially, process existing tails.

Out of the four mining company representatives on stage, Newmont declared the most TMFs – 89 in total. Dean Gehring, EVP & CTO, was keen to point out that the gold miner took a “process safety approach” to handling these facilities.

Newmont, as has been well documented, is looking into tailings stacking solutions as well as EcoTails with FLSmidth to reduce its exposure to wet tailings dam facilities.

All representatives agreed technology developments in this space should be treated like those developed to improve safety – where proprietary technology arguments are put on the backburner to help the industry advance.

After each mining company representative had been given a chance to provide some context as to why they were up on stage about to be asked the tricky tailings questions everyone in the industry wanted to know, the moderator’s questions started.

What it revealed, even among just four companies, was the different ways miners operate and manage tailings dams.

Each company had operations in different countries, with different cultures and with different geotechnical requirements.

CONSOL’s Connell, in response to a question about would the company look to decommission any ‘upstream dams’ in its portfolio – constructions that have faced increased scrutiny since the dam failure in Brazil in January – said the coal miner had no intention of stopping these. “We intend for that to be our practice going forward,” he said referring to the dam in question at the PMC.

Mosaic’s Case, meanwhile, said the company had gone as far as taking one tailings dam out of service since the Bruamidinho collapse last year, with decommissioning lined up.

Case was the first one to answer the question on applying a global tailings standard across the industry, explaining it would be very difficult to “enforce” this – most probably because of the differing operating practices seen across the industry.

“There are a lot of differing opinions on those standards,” she said. Depending on the region in question, applying certain standards could impact competitiveness, she offered up as one example of these varied opinions.

This may have been one of the reasons why Freeport’s Conger said the company was supportive of having a global tailings standard, but would withhold judgement on if the miner would follow all recommendations until the detail had come out.

Gehring, meanwhile, compared the new standards to what the gold sector had seen with the cyanide code years ago. “It will take some time to work through,” he said, referring to this example.

What was clear from this session is that any company that follows the guidelines likely to come out of the ICMM’s Global Tailings Review is likely to be considered a leader within the sector. This comes with benefits.

Case said: “Where I do see it (the standards) becoming really beneficial is allowing companies to show they are at the forefront of this.”

This is likely to have a positive impact on the way investors and insurers view such companies, she explained.

“I think it is really going to raise the industry up.”