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Financial ImpactTSF failures carry significant costs that entail remediation and remuneration to workers’ families, not to mention the cost of rebuilding the structure. For example, the failure of the Córrego de Feijão Mine is expected to reach $7 billion. What’s more, when a TSF fails, it also impacts the operations at other facilities, which in turn has a cost to the company operating that facility.
Environmental ImpactClearly, when a TSF fails, the surrounding areas can potentially suffer major environmental damage. An analysis of 306 dam failures revealed that 24 failures happened in a legally protected area, and 158 failures took place within 10 kilometers of a protected area. What’s more, TSFs can contribute significantly to pollution if not managed properly, introducing waste materials to habitats and waterways. Mining companies today are expected to adopt a “corporate social license” model to operate, in which they operate based on best practices in management and stakeholder engagement. It also entails that, in the event of a failure, the firm takes all necessary steps to “do the right thing first,” regardless of cost. An excellent example of this is the Australian mining industry’s “Australian Mining Tailings Communiqué,” in which the industry outlined guidelines for “building industry expertise and enhancing technical capacity on tailings management”. The goal was to build a framework for assessing management systems and identifying how they can be improved across the industry.
What are mine tailings?
Mine tailings are the by-products of the mineral recovery process created following the processing of mined ore. Tailings typically take the form of a slurry made up of fine mineral particles.
What is a Tailings Storage Facility (TSF)?
Tailings occur as the result of extracting the “gangue” from the valuable portions of mined ore, and these unneeded materials include metals, minerals, chemicals, organic compounds, and water. These materials are often toxic and can cause major environmental hazards if not properly contained and managed.
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