LONDON, WASHINGTON, and OTTAWA, Oct. 23, 2017 /CNW/ - An international coalition of non-governmental organizations welcomes the new Assessment Report Summary released last week in Geneva by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which urges States and the industry to end deadly and damaging mining waste spills by enforcing a "zero-failure objective."
The joint UNEP-GRID Arendal assessment, "Mine Tailings Storage: Safety Is No Accident," highlights over 40 mining waste failures over the last decade, including eight 'significant' spills since 2014 alone. These failures have killed some 341 people since 2008, damaged hundreds of kilometers of waterways, affected drinking water sources, and jeopardized the livelihoods of many communities.
The summary report makes 18 recommendations, including two overarching ones:
- "The approach to tailings storage facilities must place safety first by making environmental and human safety a priority in management actions and on-the-ground operations. Regulators, industry and communities should adopt a shared zero-failure objective to tailings storage facilities where 'safety attributes should be evaluated separately from economic considerations, and cost should not be the determining factor' (Mount Polley expert panel, 2015, p. 125)"
- "Establish a UN Environment stakeholder forum to facilitate international strengthening of tailings dam regulation."
Other recommendations include:
- Transparency: "Establish an accessible public-interest, global database of mine sites, tailings storage facilities and research" and "Fund research into mine tailings storage failures and management of active, inactive and abandoned mine sites."
- Accountability: "Expand mining regulations to include independent monitoring and the enforcement of financial and criminal sanctions for non-compliance."
- Best Practices: "Avoid dam construction methods known to be high risk," and "require detailed and ongoing evaluations of potential failure modes, residual risks and perpetual management costs of tailings storage facilities."
- Financial Securities: "Enforce mandatory financial securities for life of the mine;" "establish a global financial assurance system for mine-sites," and "fund a global insurance pool." Also, "ensure any project assessment or expansion publishes all externalized costs, with an independent life-of-mine sustainability cost-benefit analysis."
SOURCE MiningWatch Canada
For further information: Lydia James, London Mining Network, 07460 394233; Alan Septoff, Earthworks, 01 202 271 2355; Ugo Lapointe, MiningWatch Canada, 01 514 708 0134; Tara Scurr, Amnesty International Canada, 01 250 703 1141