Industry & Environment: “Mine waste storage facilities are like ticking time bombs”

Samarco incident
BHP and Vale pay out $260m over burst Samarco dam in Brazil

Non-government groups have welcomed a United Nations report that recommends a “zero-failure objective” and establishing a UN Environment stakeholder forum to strengthen tailings dam regulations.

The UN’s “Mine Tailings Storage: Safety is no accident” report looked at why existing engineering and technical knowhow was insufficient to meet the target of zero catastrophic incidents.

It cited serious tailings dam failures, including Mt Polley in 2014 Samarco in 2015, which each released more than 25 million cubic metres of tailings into the environment, enough material combined to fill more than 20,000 Olympic swimming pools.

“It is hoped that this report will encourage targeted action at the policy and technical level to make zero catastrophic incidents become a reality and ensure that economic prosperity is fully compatible with community health and safety,” UN Environment Programme economy division director Ligia Noronha said in the foreword.

An international coalition of non-government organizations this week welcomed the release of the report, including MiningWatch Canada, Amnesty International and Earthworks, which urged companies and governments to act on the recommendations.

“Mine waste storage facilities are like ticking time bombs, putting communities and waterways in harm’s way in the event of catastrophic failure,” Earthworks’ Payal Sampat said.(Source: Platts)

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