Mining group works with U.N., ethical investors to tackle tailings

FILE PHOTO: Members of a rescue team search for victims of a collapsed tailings dam owned by Brazilian mining company Vale SA, in Brumadinho, Brazil February 10, 2019. REUTERS/Washington Alves/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - A group bringing together the world’s biggest listed miners on Wednesday said it was working with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and ethical investors to help agree a global standard for tailings dams.

The safety of dams used to store mining waste known as tailings became more high profile after the collapse of a Vale tailings dam in Brazil in January killed an estimated 300 people.

Vale and other major miners, including Rio Tinto, BHP and Glencore, are members of the industry body International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), which met in London on Wednesday to debate tailings safety.

In a statement on its website, the ICMM said it was working with the UNEP and the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), a group that brings together ethical investors overseeing around $80 trillion worth of investments.

Its signatories include the Church of England Pensions Board and the Council of Ethics of the Swedish National Pension Funds, which will be leading efforts on an independent review on tailings standards with an aim of completing the task this year.

The independence is an attempt to overcome concern that industry self-regulation would not be sufficiently robust.

Reporting by Barbara Lewis and Arathy S Nair; editing by David Evans