Gold miner AngloGold Ashanti’s board of directors and management believe the company’s management and governance approach provides an effective way to manage the risks associated with tailings storage facilities (TSFs).
The company has 34 TSFs across its global portfolio, of which 60% are active, 20% are being remined and 20% are inactive facilities.
Of its TSFs, 59% are upstream facilities, 29% downstream, 3% centreline and 9% in-pit.
The company indicated in a media release that its TSFs were designed and built to a rigorous set of standards and carefully managed and monitored through a four-layered assurance system by a team of internal specialists and independent external experts.
“Ensuring that these TSFs are responsibly maintained is crucial to maintaining
our licence to operate. AngloGold has a detailed framework that sets principles, standards and guidelines for the construction, management and oversight of its TSFs,” the company stated.
The aim is to protect and maintain human health and safety and the environment, as well as to enable efficient and responsible production.
The framework, overseen by experienced TSF engineers, focuses on the sound management of all phases of the TSF lifecycle, recognises that each TSF is unique and that there is no single design or operating technique that can be adopted universally.
Therefore, the specific, detailed elements of each TSF are covered in regional codes of practice and site-specific operations’ manuals.
AngloGold assured shareholders that it maintained a TSF review and oversight system.
At the operational level, the day-to-day operations of each TSF are managed by a TSF superintendent.
Further, the plant or process manager is responsible for the first layer of governance, namely implementing the detailed requirements of the TSF operations manual.
Regional tailings engineers, the TSF specialists who report to the COO, conduct quarterly inspections of active TSFs, thereby providing a second layer of governance to ensure the safe management of the company’s TSFs.
These specialists provide ongoing technical guidance to the responsible teams at each operation and monitor the implementation of these recommended actions.
Corporate management of the TSFs is a third layer of governance and assurance. This entails
formal TSF audits once or twice a year by a corporate tailings engineer, a TSF specialist that
reports to the executive VP of group planning and technical.
This person is the custodian of AngloGold’s Tailings Management Framework and conducts TSF reviews for projects and mergers and acquisitions related due diligence.
Finally, the fourth layer of governance involves an independent external review on a one- to five-year cycle.
The frequency of the reviews depends on the legal requirements for each jurisdiction and the specific risk profile of each TSF.
Geotechnical engineers with specific experience in tailings management are chosen to conduct these inspections.
Moreover, each TSF has an emergency action plan, which is reviewed yearly for active TSFs.
AngloGold’s disclosure was made in response to a call, in April 2019, by a group of 96 investors, represented by the Church of England Pensions Board and the Swedish Council on Ethics and backed by the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment, on all publicly-traded mining companies to disclose information related to their TSFs and the management thereof.Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online