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Fourth anniversary of the dam collapse at Vale’s Córrego do Feijão mine in Brumadinho

24 January 2023

London, UK – Four years ago, 270 lives were lost in a tragedy in Brumadinho, Brazil. The families and community that suffered because of the failure of a dam containing mine waste - or tailings - at Vale’s Córrego do Feijão mine continue to be in our thoughts. It simply should never have happened.

For the families and community who suffered loss, 25 January is a day of remembrance to honour their loved ones. For the mining industry, it is also a day to re-commit to action that makes tailings dams safer.

In response to the tragedy in 2019, the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management (the Standard) was launched by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and ICMM in August 2020. The Standard strives to achieve the ultimate goal of zero harm to people and the environment with zero tolerance for human fatality. It elevates accountability for tailings facilities to the highest organisational levels, strengthens requirements for their accountability and independent oversight, and enhances transparency and disclosure related to tailings facilities which are critical to the safety of communities who live close by and other stakeholders.

All ICMM’s 26 member companies have committed to the Standard, which is a requirement of ICMM membership. ICMM members have committed that all tailings facilities with ‘Extreme’ or ‘Very High’ consequence classifications will be in conformance with the Standard by August this year and all other facilities by August 2025.

There will also be independent third-party audits of that conformance.

Last year, tailings facility failures at Jagersfontein in South Africa (September) and the Williamson Mine in Tanzania (November) underscored that our industry cannot afford to be complacent, and we call for the accelerated adoption of the Standard globally.

To that end, PRI and UNEP, have been working to establish a body that will oversee conformance with the Standard and promote uptake. Once established, the Global Tailings Management Institute (GTMI) will mark another milestone towards a shared goal of zero harm to people and the environment from tailings facilities. We welcomed the opportunity to participate in the Advisory Panel to design the institute and look forward to further collaboration to support its establishment.