HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (Reuters) - The world’s largest miners said on Tuesday they will sponsor an independent review to set global standards for tailings dam design and maintenance following last month’s deadly disaster at a Brazilian facility controlled by Vale SA.
The International Council on Mining and Metals, an industry trade group whose members include Glencore Plc, BHP Group Ltd and 25 others, said a committee will review and set standards by the end of the year for the classification and audit of tailings dams, as well as emergency response.
Currently there are no established global mining industry standards defining what a tailings dam is, how to build one and how to care for it after it is decommissioned.
The step is the first definitive action taken by the broader mining industry since last month’s disaster, when a tailings dam owned by Vale, the world’s largest iron ore miner, collapsed, unleashing a wall of mud that killed more than 300 people..
The new standards will be binding for all members, including Vale, which has come under attack by industry experts as well as Brazilian authorities for lax oversight of its tailings dam facilities.
ICMM members “have committed to creating a step change for the industry in the safety of tailings facilities by developing a recognized international standard for member companies,” said ICMM Chief Executive Tom Butler.
Butler finalized the agreement with the CEOs of some of the world’s largest miners on Tuesday morning on the sidelines of a BMO Metals & Mining Conference in Florida.
The study will involve industry experts as well as investors, trade groups, politicians and others. It will have an independent chair, ICMM said.
Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; Editing by Tom Brown