Managing the ESG aspects of tailings storage facilities
Exploring the environmental, social, and governance aspects of managing tailings facilities, and how a software management solution can assist.
Tailings facilities store a mine’s primary waste stream resulting from the processing of ore, mostly consisting of ground-up rock mixed with water. The construction, operation, and decommissioning of a mine’s tailings storage facility (TSF) incorporates each of the 3 ESG pillars:
Environmental: The ongoing monitoring of aspects such as water quantity or quality, air quality, impacts on biodiversity, and noise volumes.
Social: Engagements with, and the control of risks and impacts to, stakeholders living near a TSF.
Governance: Complying with regulatory requirements and commitments, ensuring that risks are managed via processes and procedures, and conducting ongoing audits and inspections.
TSF incidents, such as a collapse for example, are often the result of risks not being identified and/or managed properly, or from inadequate operating protocols (such as poor governance).
The consequences are usually environmental and social in nature, such as water and soil contamination, and biodiversity destruction, as well as human fatalities and/or livelihood upsets. Recovering from these may take decades, or perhaps recovery may never occur at all.
For mining companies to manage these ESG aspects optimally requires adequate processes and procedures, as well as skilled resources.
A management system such as the IsoMetrix Tailings Management solution helps to manage the various aspects of a TSF. For more information on the IsoMetrix Tailings Management solution, please contact us or download our Tailings Management brochure.
Environmental monitoring data can be gathered, either manually or via integration with IoT devices, with limits and targets set, and alerts triggered when data does not conform to set standards and thresholds.
Social-wise, the solution offers the ability to capture details of stakeholders such as local community members, and of any engagements held, with the option of creating follow-up actions. In addition, emergency drills can be scheduled with observations and findings logged, and corrective actions set.
In terms of governance, details of authorizations such as permits or licenses can be captured with any commitments or obligations unpacked to ensure that these are visible and adhered to.
Risk registers can be established and continually reviewed to ensure ratings are up to date, such as those concerning climate change for example.
Routine events such as audits or inspections can be scheduled, findings captured, and actions set. Audit protocols, such as those published by the Global Tailings Review or the Mining Association of Canada, can be captured and alignment to these protocols assessed at regular intervals.
This in-built software functionality highlights management and visibility gaps that can be addressed with the aim of achieving a high level of TSF safety standards conformance.
A well-run and actively managed TSF that conforms to all the relevant industry safety standards facilitates various advantages, such as reduced insurance rates and an improved ability to raise capital.
Most important however, is the knowledge that it’s not posing unknown risks which may lead to major incidents, and potentially highly damaging reputational and financial consequences.
Knowing the ESG risks related to a TSF and having systems to complement the human resources involved in running it, reduces the risk of harmful incidents occurring.
For more information on the IsoMetrix Tailings Management solution, please contact us or download our Tailings Management brochure.