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The aftermath of the January 2019 Brumadinho tailings dam collapse in Brazil

The aftermath of the January 2019 Brumadinho tailings dam collapse in Brazil

On the eve of the fourth anniversary of the Brumadinho Tailings dam disaster, in Brazil, which resulted in the deaths of 270 people, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Church of England Pensions Board – representing the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) that co-convened the process with UNEP – announced the formation of the independent Global Tailings Management Institute (GTMI) to drive mining industry safety standards.

The announcement was made at an investor summit on mining hosted by the LSE and convened by the Church of England Pensions Board in collaboration with UNEP.

It follows the work of a multistakeholder International Advisory Panel and extensive discussions with stakeholders in the mining sector.

The institute will be central to the independent auditing required of companies to ensure they are in conformance with the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management (GISTM).

The core function of the institute is to oversee the implementation of, and conformance with, the GISTM.

To achieve this, the institute’s core priority will be assurance – managing an assurance framework where tailings facilities will be audited and certified against the GISTM by qualified, independent third-party assessors.

This will be supported by promoting awareness, understanding and adoption of the GISTM by all mining companies – public, private and government owned – building on the efforts of the Global Tailings Review.

It will also be supported by knowledge sharing, that is, facilitating the sharing of knowledge on implementing the standard to improve overall knowledge in tailings management.

Lastly, it will be supported by disclosures, that is, supporting confidence in the standard and its implementation through transparency of tailings facility details and auditing outcomes.

A nine-person multistakeholder board will govern the institute with support from a technical committee.

An independent chair and deputy chair will be sought through an open call for applications, one of which will be from industry. The institute will operate with a fee-based model related to the number of tailings facilities a company has responsibility for and registered with the institute.

Following the announcement of the institute, UNEP and PRI, as the co-conveners of the multi-stakeholder International advisory panel that made the detailed recommendations for formation of the Independent GTMI, issued a public call for people meeting the necessary criteria to nominate themselves for the chair, deputy chair and board members.

A separate call was also made inviting any institutions that wished to work with UNEP and PRI in the foundation of the institute to contact UNEP and PRI.