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Professor Bruno Oberle to chair independent tailings review

24 April 2019

London, UK – Professor Bruno Oberle has agreed to chair an independent review of mine tailings storage facilities, the International Council of Mining and Metals (ICMM), Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announced today.

The review will establish an international standard for the safe management of tailings storage facilities that can be applied to all tailings dams wherever they are located and whoever operates them.

Professor Oberle is Chair for Green Economy and Resource Governance and Academic Director of the International Risk Governance Center at L'Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland, a panel member of the International Resource Panel and a member of the Leadership Council of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network. He was previously the Swiss Secretary of State for the Environment and Director of the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment.

Professor Oberle will oversee every aspect of the review and prepare a report which is expected to be published by the end of the year.

Set up in response to the Brumadinho tragedy in Brazil, the review will be informed by evidence and lessons from this disaster as well as earlier mine tailings dam failures.

Professor Oberle said: "This is a demanding role and we have a responsibility to the people of Brumadinho to get this right. My objective is clear: I will oversee a comprehensive review of the current situation and draw up a new international standard for tailings storage facilities that draws on the best practice from around the globe."

In addition to the appointment of a chair from outside the mining sector, the independence of the review will further be assured by the appointment of a multi-stakeholder advisory panel consisting of non-governmental organisations, international bodies and responsible investors.

The chair will also be able to draw on the experience of an expert panel of tailings and dam specialists selected from academia and industry.

Naysán Sahba, Director of Communications at UNEP said: "I am delighted that Professor Oberle has agreed to chair the review. He brings exactly the right experience and qualities to ensure that the review is robust and will lead to a step change in the international standards on tailings dams."

Tom Butler, CEO of ICMM said: "Professor Oberle clearly has the right credentials to lead this review. The new standard that the review agrees will be mandatory for ICMM members and adopted at all their operational assets globally. I hope that non-members will sign up to the standard too."

Fiona Reynolds, CEO of the PRI, said: “Alongside our investor representatives - the Swedish Council of Ethics and the Church of England Pensions Board - the PRI is very pleased with the appointment of Professor Oberle to chair the independent mail tailings review. The Professor’s experience and expertise will be a tremendous asset in this role, and we hope to see robust investor engagement around an international standard for the safe management of tailings storage facilities in the near future.”

John Howchin of the Swedish Council of Ethics and investor representative of the Principles for Responsible Investment said: "We are pleased with the appointment of Professor Oberle and that he will give confidence in the independence of the review and setting the new international tailings storage standard."

Adam Matthews of the Church of England Pensions Board and investor representative of the PRI said: "This review is extremely important to those investors that have publicly called for a new international standard.  Professor Oberle will bring independence and rigour to this process."


About ICMM

ICMM is an international organisation dedicated to a safe, fair and sustainable mining and metals industry which brings together 27 mining and metals companies and 35 regional and commodities associations. Every ICMM member company adheres to 10  Principles and 8 Position Statements on issues relating to sustainable development.

About United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

The United Nations Environment Programme is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment. UNEP’s mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

About Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI)

The PRI is the world’s leading proponent of responsible investment. It works to understand the investment implications of ESG factors and to support its international network of investor signatories in incorporating these factors into their investment and ownership decisions. The PRI acts in the long-term interests of its signatories, of the financial markets and economies in which they operate, and ultimately, of the environment and society as a whole.

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