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Tailings management

At MMG, we prioritise the management of our tailings and Tailings Storage Facilities (TSFs) as crucial material issues and risks that demand ongoing, rigorous risk management. Our approach includes enforcing minimum requirements for all sites. This encompasses the entire life cycle of tailings facilities and dams, spanning strategic planning, design, operations, maintenance, inspections, emergency response, and closure. Our commitment to protecting lives and the environment is mandated in our Tailings Storage Facilities and Water Storage Dam Standard. 

To develop these minimum requirements, we collaborate with internal and external subject matter experts, ensuring alignment with global standards such as the Global International Standard on Tailings Management (GISTM), Australian National Committee on Large Dams (ANCOLD), Canadian Dam Association (CDA), and the Mining Association of Canada (MAC). Our approach not only complies with but often exceeds regulatory requirements in the jurisdictions where we operate. 

MMG adheres to critical design and execution requirements based on a thorough risk assessment process. This process undergoes annual review, focusing on both operating and non-operating TSFs. Our primary goal is to minimise environmental and community impacts, with an additional objective of maximising operational efficiency. The risk management and control execution measures are subject to internal, external, and independent audits. 

Increased disclosures around tailings management 

Given the increased scrutiny of TSF integrity within the industry and from external stakeholders, recent failures of large upstream-constructed dams have raised concerns. At MMG, the majority of our TSFs, including Las Bambas, are engineered as rock and earth fill structures using downstream construction methods. At our Rosebery operation in Australia ant our Khoemacau operation in Botswana, we incorporate upstream construction methods in a portion of the containment dam. 

In 2016, the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) issued a position statement emphasising the prevention of catastrophic failure of TSFs. MMG’s approach to TSF governance fully aligns with this framework. We implement an Independent Technical Dam Reviews and an Engineer of Record at each of our TSFs. 

In August 2020 ICMM, in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), introduced the GISTM. MMG actively contributed to shaping this standard through our membership in the ICMM. GISTM applies to both existing and new tailings facilities, with a primary focus on preventing extreme consequences for people and the environment resulting from catastrophic tailings facility failures. 

The GISTM encompasses six critical topic areas: 

  • Affected Communities 
  • Integrated Knowledge Base 
  • Design, Construction, Operation, and Monitoring of the Tailings Facility 
  • Management and Governance 
  • Emergency Response and Long-Term Recovery 
  • Public Disclosure and Access to Information 

MMG has made significant progress in aligning with the GISTM, and we remain committed to achieving full compliance for all our Tailings Storage Facilities. Our priority lies in meeting the Standard’s requirements related to the integrity of our dams. 

Our commitment to safety extends from our Board to our Executive Management Team, ensuring the necessary governance and resources are in place to protect our teams and the environment. We continuously enhance our TSF controls, benchmarking them against independent tailings expert reviews and audits, as defined by GISTM and ANCOLD. 

See the MMG Sustainability Report Appendix for our tailings disclosures.