Committee members
  • Alastair Macfarlane (Chairperson)
  • Adelle Coetzee
  • John Wates
  • Guy Wiid
  • Dr Kym Morton
  • Luis Alberto Torres Cruz
  • Dr Graham Howell
  • Elias Matinde


Global Action on Tailings eNews

The Global Mineral Professionals Alliance is a collaboration between peak bodies for minerals professionals around the world, taking a leadership role in the pursuit and continuing development of best practice professionalism in the minerals industries.

Initiated by the GMPA, the Global Action on Tailings is led by international taskforce working to build awareness and knowledge in good tailings practice as well as identifying ways for the mining industry to eventually reduce or eliminate tailings storage facilities. A key goal is to support professionals in ways that lead to greater trust by society about industry’s ability to manage tailings risks.

The October 2021 issue of GAT eNews aims to keep members informed of news, tailings resources, conferences, courses, and webinars.
Download it here...


Call for expressions of interest on Tailings Facility Management Research.

The failure of the Brumaldinho tailings dam in Brazil, and other recent failures, has precipitated global attention on the design and stability of Tailings Storage Facilities (TSFs).
This attention includes the work of the International Council on Mining and Minerals (ICMM), which has produced the Global International Standard on Tailings Management (GISTM), which addresses issues beyond pure technical design and monitoring, but also covers topics and principles governing affected communities, emergency response, long term recovery and disclosure and information sharing. These topics result in a social, socio-economic and environmental focus, in addition to technical focus.

In addition, the SAIMM is participating in the Global Mining Professional Alliance (GMPA) Global Action on Tailings Group, which is promoting and coordinating global research, which will then translate into learning and training, and appropriate competency development and registration of professionals.
This shift requires research work to be conducted on all of these aspects, as well as in terms of design, monitoring and management.
The ICMM Standard gives global guidance on these issues, so that this can be cascaded to local or regional standards and guidelines. In this regard the SAIMM has partnered with the South African Council of Civil Engineers (SAICE), to revise and update the South African Standard on mine residue deposits, which is SANS 10286, which was last revised in 1998.

This revision will then inform the potential development of a Southern African Code for TSF management.
All of this work has been moved to a higher level as a result of requests for more disclosure from investors and NGO’s, and the raising of the issue to Board level, where the probability of failure may appear low, but the potential impact of failure could be catastrophic.
The content of the GISTM has impact on many issues that have previously not been considered in depth, to highly technical issues concerning design and monitoring. This involves work in the fields of instrumentation, management, geotechnical and civil engineering design, soil mechanics, metallurgy, engineering and social sciences. Ultimately, it requires research into the mine of the future where tailings dams are not constructed.
The call for interest requests that tertiary institutions express their level of support and involvement in research in this area, and the identification of research topics.

Additionally, it requests industry to support the research initiatives, through the identification of research topics and the resourcing of research in this area which is of importance to the collective mining industry in Southern Africa.
The research is also of interest to all stakeholder groups, and the aim of the SAIMM would be to provide a platform where open dialogue and independent research can be conducted.
Expressions of interest can be addressed to the SAIMM Secretariate.

Update note on Tailings Committee activities

This note is an update on activities of the SAIMM Tailings Group and the GMPA Global Action Group on Tailings.
Before illustrating progress on these groups, it is important to indicate that the Global Tailings Review conducted by the ICMM has resulted in the development of the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management, which is now finalized and published as a Best Practice Guideline. Although not mandatory for ICMM member companies, it provides a valuable framework which can also be used by non-ICMM members.

However, the GISTM has come in for some criticism from NGO groups, not least of which is Earthworks, who have concluded that the GISTM does not go far enough in protecting communities and the environment.

A book has also been published “Credibility Crisis: Brumadinho and the politics of Mining Industry reform” (Kemp, Hopkins) which also illustrates that the Standard came to represent a step change, yet also falls short.

A website has been established “Tailings News Alerts” (TNA) which published regular updates and reports on global tailings activity.
These illustrate the elevation to a significantly higher level of attention to tailings storage facilities worldwide, and is increasing the focus of investors on how mining companies are dealing with and managing their facilities.

MORE - download the complete note (PDF 200KB)

For the Leading Source of Breaking News in Tailings and Tailings Storage Facilities,
visit TNA- Tailings News Alerts


Tailings elements 25052021Visualizing the Size of Mine Tailings

On January 25th, 2019, a 10-meter tall wave traveling 120 km/h, washed 10 million m3 of mining waste from the Brumadinho tailings dam over the Brazilian countryside killing somewhere between 270 and 320 people.

This was a manmade disaster, made from mining the materials we use daily. Every copper wire in your house, steel frame in an EV, or any modern appliance comes from mining.

Mining leaves behind waste in the form of tailings stored in dams or ponds around the world. This infographic takes a look at the estimated size of one part of this waste, tailings, visualized next to the skyline of New York City as a benchmark.

Read the full article...



The SAIMM has established a Working Group to advance various issues within the area of Tailings Storage Facilities Management and Design.

This follows the catastrophic events in South America which led to the following.

The Investor Mining & Tailings Safety Initiative has requested that over 600 resource companies, including major miners, reveal the safety records of their waste storage facilities, following the collapse of Vale’s Brumadinho dam in Brazil in January, which killed hundreds.

Following the disaster, a group of 96 institutional investors (representing more than $10.3 trillion assets under management) have written to 683 extractive companies seeking greater disclosure on the management of tailings storage facilities.

About 100 investors, led by the Church of England Pensions Board and Sweden’s public pension fund, expect the companies to publish the answers to 20 questions sent, covering issues such as the height and type of dams they have, their capacity, engineering records and safety checks.

In South/Southern Africa, most of our facilities are “upstream” facilities. Despite extensive risk assessments and relatively few failures, these do not find favour with the investment and international community. Thus, our position needs to be made clear that our facilities are safe and that our governance and oversight is adequate.

A number of global initiatives have been instituted as a result of this activism from investors, which has resulted in the following.

  • Globally:
    • The International Council on Minerals and Metals (ICMM) commissioned a study on developing a global industry standard on tailings facility management, due for imminent public release;
    • The International Committee on Large Dams (ICOLD) review is also producing a global guideline;
    • The Global Mining Professionals Alliance (GMPA) of which SAIMM is a participating Member has established a Global Action on Tailings Group (SAIMM is a participant);
    • The idea is to achieve commonality across the globe.
  • Nationally:
    • The South African National Standard SANS 10286 is the governing standard, but needs revision
    • SAIMM is collaborating with South African Institute of Civil Engineers (SAICE) on this revision
  • SAIMM/SAICE working group formed
    • The SAIMM is assessing the need for a Guidance note/Code for TSF management;
    • This will be informed by ICMM, ICOLD, GMPA and SANS;
    • Funding and industry support is required;
    • Two Working groups have been formed, firstly to assess the need and development of a Code or Guideline (depending on the SANS revision, and the second on qualifications and registration of professionals in the field;
    • A Tailings website has been established;
    • A global Conference in South Africa is being organized for November, which will showcase the ICMM Standard, and follow its structure;
    • Participation in SME Book on Tailings design and management.

These initiatives will put the SAIMM at the front of many initiatives happening worldwide, and form an essential backdrop to Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) and sustainability issues, which are of increasing importance to mining companies and their stakeholders.

The survey requested by the Church of England resulted in the major mining companies of South Africa posting the results of their surveys on their websites.

The SAIMM is initiating a project to draw out of all of this data, in order to produce a Best Practice note. The Institute is currently determining how to fund this important research study.

In addition the SAIMM is coordinating funding for the joint work to be undertaken with SAICE to spearhead the revision of SANS 10286.



Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Tailings storage facilities task group
Terms of Reference

1. Background

Since the failures of tailings facilities in South America in particular, an unprecedented amount of activity has occurred globally, with many different groups being formed to fulfill mandates defined by their principles.
These groupings include:

  • The Church of England and Swedish Pension Fund Groups who requested a global review on tailings facility safety and environmental impact, through a self audit process conducted buy mining companies;
  • A response by the ICMM to produce appropriate standards and guidelines for TSF design and management, centered on risk assessment and design and management competency and control;
  • The establishment of a project within the Global Mining Professionals Alliance (GMPA) that focusses on risk management systems, competency and monitoring and communications to potentially affected communities. The GMPA (of which SAIMM is a member) has requested that member organisations establish a local task team, and to have a representative reporting in on local activities, to the quarterly GMPA meetings. It has also requested the nomination of technical experts to serve on adhoc GMPA committees or task groups;
  • The establishment of a Global Research Consortium on Tailings, made up largely of academic members and organisations, to investigate competency requirements and requisite qualifications;
  • The establishment of a group and framework to develop guidelines by ICOLD for use by industry and regulators.

Locally, the Minerals Council South Africa has coordinated inputs into the ICMM group, and the SAICE has which is considerably out of date.
This all creates a picture of much activity, and the risk exists of duplication of effort, the development of conflicting outcomes, and the possibility of creating odious and unworkable global standards.

2. Duties of the SAIMM Task Group

  • Report on activities relating to TSFs in Southern Africa to the GMPA;
  • Keep a watching brief and coordinate activities in Southern Africa, where possible;
  • Provide inputs and comments on global and local activities and documents;
  • Liaise with academic institutions on the development of competency and qualifications;
  • Arrange, through SAIMM, conferences and schools to disseminate new knowledge and standards, guidelines;
  • Provide local technical input to global committees and task groups, to represent Southern African interests;
  • Report back to other working groups in Southern Africa, on GMPA initiatives;
  • On the assumption that a process similar to that related to Mineral Resource and Reserve reporting is required, provide input to a high level, principle based global framework, and develop structures for the development of local codes, standards and guidelines for the Southern African environment. This may involve establishing and guiding various sub-groups.

3. Constitution

The Task Group will be made up of industry experts, drawn from academia, industry, consultants and the regulator. There will be no fixed term of membership or limit on numbers, and new members may be seconded through the suggestion of members.
The group will meet on a quarterly basis, prior to the GMPA meetings.
Adhoc meetings may be called where necessary.





ABOUT THE Tailings Conference

Global Tailings Standards and Opportunities for the Mine of the Future
Tailings storage facilities have been a feature of mining operations around the globe since mining began. They are the depositories of waste or gangue material from mining operations and mineral processing plants, or the storage facilities for pollution control. In some cases, they may still contain low grade minerals, high grade fines that are not economically viable to treat. They may also contain reagents and other radioactive or potentially harmful minerals and chemicals, that could damage ecosystems in the event of their escape. Tailings facilities are each in a way unique, either in terms of location, terrain, design and construction. Furthermore, in terms of design and construction, debate occurs globally on the merits and demerits of upstream and downstream facilities, and wet or dry facilities.



Dr Graham HowellAdelle Coetzee

Current position:
Implats: Executive: Metallurgy
B.Eng (metallurgy) at University of Potchefstroom (qualified 1996)
Global Executive Development program at Gordon Institute of Business science (2011).
Professional Engineer registered at ECSA
Work experience:
Joined Impala Platinum in 1997 as metallurgist.
Worked since then in various positions and operations as Processing manager.
Appointed in 2008 as Group Production manager : Concentrating.
Responsible for tailings storage facility management throughout career.

Dr Graham HowellDr Graham Howell
(PrEng, BSc Eng, MSc Eng, PhD Eng, FSAICE, FSAAE, MSANIRE)

Dr Howell is the past Chairman of SRK South Africa. Professionally, he is a Corporate Consultant and Principal Structural/Geotechnical Engineer with SRK Consulting with more than 40 years experience in the civil, geotechnical, environmental and risk engineering fields. He has worked in the consulting and construction fields during his career for Provincial Government, SRK Consulting and Synexus Pty Ltd (own company). He is a registered professional engineer with ECSA (Engineering Council of South Africa) and is a Fellow of SAICE (South African Institution of Civil Engineers), a Fellow of the South African Academy of Engineering (SAAE) and SANIRE (South African National Institute of Rock Engineers).

Dr Howell has extensive experience in the design aspects of engineering, including the use of numerical methods and qualitative (probabilistic) risk methodologies (QRA) for the assessment and solution of engineering problems. His experience covers both mining and civil engineering project including shafts, tunnels, mining surface structures, underground structures, rock and soil slope stability, pipelines, civil structures and tailings facilities amongst others.

Dr Howell has been an external examiner for civil engineering at under- and post- graduate levels at the Universities of Cape Town, Witwatersrand and Johannesburg. His speciality lies in soil and rock/structure interaction and his research interests include the use and application of probabilistic methods (including QRA) in engineering.

Dr Graham HowellAlastair Stuart Macfarlane
Company: Mandela Mining Precinct
Designation: Director
Qualifications: MSc (Eng), FSAIMM, ACSM

  • Mine Manager and Consultant Mineral Resource Management, AngloGold.
  • Senior Lecturer at Wits University, lecturing in Mine Financial valuation, Mining Methods, Mineral resource management
  • Owner and Director Macsim Mining Consultancy, consulting to most mining companies in South Africa, as well as consulting in Zambia, Tanzania, DRC and Australia
  • Founder Member and technical Director of Sebilo Resources (Pty)Ltd, an operational BBBEE mining company, operating in the N Cape
  • Independent Non Executive director Implats

Dr Graham HowellDr Kym L Morton
PhD (Imperial) MBA (Imperial) C Geol FGS FSAIMM Pr Sci Nat DIC

Dr Kym L Morton has a BSc Honours from Kings College, an MSc in Hydrogeology from University College, London, a PhD in Mining Hydrology from Imperial College and an MBA in Innovation and entrepreneurship also from Imperial College. She is based in Johannesburg and London and is a UK chartered Geologist and Fellow of the SAIMM and UK Geological society. In South Africa she is registered as a Pr Sci Nat.  Her career in mining hydrology  spans 39 years and she has worked on over 300 mines worldwide. In 1989 she founded KLM Consulting Services ( KLMCS) to provide innovative and practical solutions to mine water issues, specialising in Mine dewatering design and tailings monitoring for risk reduction. Kym has published over 35 papers on accurate mine water control and she is passionate about empowering management to make the right decisions on time and within budgets.  

Dr Graham HowellJohn Wates
BSc (Eng), MSc (Eng), MBA, Pr. Eng.

John Wates is currently non executive Chairman of Fraser Alexander, a mining services company and provides independent consulting services through John Wates Consulting. He has had over 40 years of experience in design and construction management of mine tailings storage facilities, water dams and industrial and domestic waste disposal sites. John serves or has served on in excess of 20 independent tailings and water dam review boards and has been appointed as the Approved Professional Person (APP) for in excess of 50 water and tailings dams up to Category III in South Africa.






Sub-committee-Education and Accreditation


Survey on requirements for GISTM appointees

Dear Members,

The Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management requires the appointment of four managerial roles. We would appreciate your views on the qualification, experience and competency required for these four appointees. If you are actively involved with any aspect of tailing management please click the link below to participate in this important survey. Your answers will help develop a Guideline for Southern African practice.

We would appreciate your response before 31 May 2021

With thanks in advance,
SAIMM Tailings Working Group: Sub-committee-Education and Accreditation

Click Here to Complete the Survey