Canadian Mining Journal


TAILINGS: Rio Tinto publicizes details of tailings management

Rio Tinto’s Kennecott copper project in Utah. (Image: Rio Tinto)

MELBOURNE, Australia – “Everything you ever wanted to know about tailings” would be a good name for the website created by Rio Tinto at

Easy to understand information about what tailings are, the basics of dam construction, and the 2015 global safety standard that applies are available and easily understood by members of the public.

Rio goes on to outline the company’s commitment to responsible tailings management and why it supports the six elements of tailings storage facility governance as outlined by the International Council on Mining and Metals’ Tailings Working Committee.

The company also explains its own internal management guideposts. How it applies three levels of oversight to the sites it manages: 1) facility design, operation and regular reviews are examined every two years at each site; 2) each site periodically undergoes an audit and technical review by the company’s surface mining centre of excellence; and 3) third party review of the sites.

Each Rio Tinto tailings facility – whether active or inactive – has an external engineer of record or a design engineer. Each site has been given a hazard classification based not on the soundness of construction but of the consequences should failure occur.

The program is proactive, transparent and accessible to almost anyone. More companies might do something similar.

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