The SAIMM is a professional institute with local and international links aimed at assisting members source information about technological developments in the mining, metallurgical and related sectors.
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Global Tailings Standards and Opportunities for the Mine of the Future

Date 08 November 2021
- 09 November 2021
Location Sun City, North West, South Africa

Introduction

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.

Following failures of TSFs over many decades, but especially in the last few years, great pressure from civil society and the investment community has resulted in calls for more stringent standards and audits, as well as public disclosure of the results of risk analysis and monitoring.

This has culminated in the recent publication of the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management by ICMM, UNEP and PRI as well as guidance by the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD). At the same time, the Global Mining Professionals Alliance has called on its members to participate actively on a Global Action on Tailings (GAT) group, to ensure cross fertilisation of knowledge and learnings about TSFs across the globe.
In addition, and in response to calls from the Church of England Pensions Board and the Council on Ethics for the Swedish Public Pension Funds, many mining companies conducted deep-dive self-audits during 2019 and 2020 which they published on their websites for public scrutiny.

In South Africa, the SAIMM has convened a Task Group which includes industry professionals, Academia, the SAIMM, and the South African Institute of Civil Engineers (SAICE). This group has formed the organizing committee for the presentation of this very important international conference.

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