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Canadian Mining Association Launches Task Force for Tailings Management Program

The Mining Association of Canada (MAC) has announced it will commission an independent, multi-stakeholder task force to review its tailings management p...

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|Mar 18|magazine6 min read

The Mining Association of Canada (MAC) has announced it will commission an independent, multi-stakeholder task force to review its tailings management program in Canada as a result of the Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley tailings dam failure last year.  

The task force will be comprised of industry experts to review requirements and guidance documents under its Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) initiative, a mandatory program for all MAC members, to ensure companies are as effective as they can be at preventing tailings dam failures, as well as optimizing the design, construction and ongoing management of tailings storage facilities.

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“The Towards Sustainable Mining initiative, along with the mining industry’s prioritization of tailings management, has contributed to a strong record of the safe operation, management, closure and aftercare of tailings facilities in recent decades. At the same time, we believe there is always room for improvement and we are committed to learning from the Mount Polley incident with the goal of ensuring we never have another one,” said Pierre Gratton, President and CEO, MAC.  

The TSM program is designed to improve the industry’s operational performance in key environmental and social areas, including tailings management and third-party verification of reported results.

The task force will be chaired by Doug Horswill, a former Chair of MAC’s Board of Directors and former Senior Vice President of Sustainability and External Affairs at Teck Resources Limited. Other prominent representatives include:

“The Canadian mining industry is committed to doing everything it can to ensure the safety and protection of the environment and communities around our sites.  If anything can be changed within the TSM system to improve safety, we want to know about it,” said Gratton.

On August 4, 2015, the Mount Polley tailings dam collapsed, releasing millions of cubic meters of water and slurry with years worth of mining waste into the Quesnel Lake watershed. Despite being a part of the MAC audit program, Imperial Metals had not released grades on its tailing management.