PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Diversified miner Rio Tinto has launched a review of the global standards of its tailings dams following the failure of a Vale tailings dam in Brazil, which killed about 300 people.
“I would like to acknowledge the recent tragedy at Minas Gerais in Brazil, and our thoughts are with all those impacted by this truly awful event. The entire industry has a responsibility to do better, and Rio Tinto is committed to play its part in any industry response, including an independent expert review,” said Rio CEO Jean-Sebastian Jacques.
“In light of the tragic event, Rio is again reviewing its global standard and, in particular, assessing how we can further strengthen the existing external audit of facilities.”
Rio in 2015 introduced a global standard for management of its tailings and water storage facilities in order to ensure that all are operated in accordance with one global standard and that any risks were actively managed.
The standard sets out a structured three-stage approach, underpinned by the company’s safety management system and an external audit programme.
The first level of assurance takes place at the asset itself, with the main tenets being effective facility design, comprehensive operational controls and regular reviews. Independent reviews of the operations are also conducted not less than once every two years.
The second level is assurance to the standard through periodic business conformance audits and technical reviews, supported by the company’s surface mining centre of excellence, while the third level of assurance is independent of site management and normally conducted by third parties.
Rio has 100 tailings facilities across 32 sites, and has a further 36 tailings facilities that are closed or under rehabilitation. Of the 100, 21 are upstream construction facilities.Creamer Media Senior Researcher and Deputy Editor Online