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Mining organisations to tackle tailings challenges

Monday, March 11th, 2019

The new initiative was announced at a recent GMPA meeting held in conjunction with this year’s Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (SME) conference.

The aim of the programe is to advance discussions and come up with solutions relating to tailings management, reprocessing/re-purposing, disposal and – eventually – elimination.

Janice Zinck, president of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM), sees tailings management as the most pressing issue for the sector. She believes the GMPA, which brings together thousands of industry experts, is in a perfect position this topic from a “scientific, fact-based perspective”.

“Over the next several months, GMPA organisations will collaborate on this initiative to develop working groups that can effectively address the significant challenges associated with tailings management at existing impoundments, as well as focusing on the need to reduce and ultimately, eliminate the use of conventional surface tailings storage facilities,” said SME president Hugh Miller.

The GMPA aims to collect data, share information on existing best practices, publish case studies and further research through its forthcoming Global Action on Tailings website.

Tailings teams will be established in each of the participating GMPA organisations, and experts on all aspects of tailings management and processing will be engaged in addressing this issue.

Alastair Macfarlane, president of The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (SAIMM), said: “Recent events have galvanised focus on the design, placement and management of waste storage facilities, while at the same time emphasising the need for research to reduce the need for such facilities.

“The sharing of global knowledge in these efforts is essential – not only to pool global knowledge – but also to prevent sub-optimisation on a local basis.”

SAIMM will hold a Tailings Storage conference in October 2019 to emphasise support for the initiative in a Southern African context.

A GMPA think tank event will be held in Arequipa, Peru, in September 2019, in conjunction with PERUMIN – Convención Minera.

The GMPA also hopes to work collaboratively with the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), which recently announced its intention to establish an independent panel of experts to develop an international standard for tailings facilities for its member companies.

The GMPA is comprised of CIM; SAIMM; SME; the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (AusIMM); the Peruvian Institute of Mining Engineers (IIMP); and the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3).

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