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Mount Polley Mine

The Mining Association of Canada (MAC) has formed a new task force to review its tailings management programme.

The independent, multi-stakeholder team has been commissioned to assess MAC’s tailings management requirements and guidance documents under its latest initiative, Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM).

TSM is a mandatory programme for all MAC members to ensure they are effectively preventing tailings dam failures and optimising the design, construction and ongoing management of their tailings storage facilities.

MAC’s tailings management programme has been initiated following the environmental breach at Mount Polley mine in south-central British Columbia on 4 August.

By reviewing TSM’s requirements and MAC’s three tailings management guides, the task force will advise on how improvements can be made. It will also assess the findings and recommendations of the BC independent expert engineering investigation and review the report submitted by the panel.

"The Canadian mining industry is committed to doing everything it can to ensure the safety and protection of the environment."

A key recommendation by the BC panel was that any operating mining should be required to be a member of MAC or commit to an equivalent programme, if it proposes to run a tailings storage facility in BC.

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MAC president and CEO Pierre Gratton said: "The Towards Sustainable Mining initiative, along with the mining industry’s prioritisation of tailings management, has contributed to a strong record of the safe operation, management, closure and aftercare of tailings facilities in recent decades.

"The Canadian mining industry is committed to doing everything it can to ensure the safety and protection of the environment and communities around our sites. If anything can be changed within the TSM system to improve safety, we want to know about it."

TSM Independent Review Task Force chairman Doug Horswill said: "The task force will work over the coming months to ensure that TSM and MAC’s tailings guides continue to be effective in the management of tailings facilities across Canada."

Image: An aerial view of the earthen dam at Mount Polley mine in British Columbia. Photo: courtesy of Visible Earth, NASA.