Expanding Tailings Stewardship to Include Towards Sustainable Mining Verification

2019

Jason Cumbers, Stantec

Tailings stewardship programs are becoming increasingly common among major producers throughout the world. Stewardship for tailings serves as a third-party review to provide outside observation, recommendations, and unique insights to improving tailings management. The Mining Association of Canada (MAC) introduced its Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) program in 2004 with the goals of stewardship, social license, encouraging excellence, and continuous improvement. One of the seven TSM protocols is Tailings Management. By incorporating TSM-trained verification service providers into a Tailings Stewardship team, operators can improve their existing tailings management practices while simultaneously accounting for the tailings management protocols with the TSM framework. Incorporating third-party review of tailings practices by TSM service providers requires that an operator: incorporate TSM training for their tailings stewardship review team, adjust their stewardship to account for each of the TSM performance indicators specific to tailings, and be willing to commit to a more formal and potentially more transparent review and reporting process. The benefits to the operator however will be an expanded tailings stewardship program to include requirements for measured sustainability improvement, credibility for environmental stewardship on a national scale under the MAC TSM framework of review, and increased transparency of the tailings management program within the community. The aspects of a well-designed tailings stewardship program provide a framework for ongoing improvement and by combining this process with a TSM review, operators can be recognized under the MAC framework for demonstrating an environmentally-responsible level of tailings management and improving their tailings practices year-to-year. This paper will provide a background on beneficial outcomes of tailings stewardship programs and explain how the TSM protocol for tailings management can be evaluated by a tailings stewardship team or accounted for as part of an already operating tailings stewardship program.
Keywords: tailings, stewardship, TSM, sustainability
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