Tailings storage facility management

The construction, operation and decommissioning of tailing dams include key issues that have the potential to affect the sustainable development of the mining industry.

There are many publicised cases of tailing dam failures across the world resulting in the escape of tailings materials off site and or significant landform instability issues. Safety consequences range from the displacement of downstream communities through to significant injuries and the death to both mine workers and the public. Environmental impacts have included the pollution of downstream rivers and land, contamination of groundwater, poisoning of native wildlife through exposure of adverse tailings as well as the generation of dust from exposed tailings material.

Recent NSW Resources Regulator activities have identified uncertainties and knowledge gaps in relation to the management of tailings storage facilities. Our goal is to ensure that titleholders and mine operators in NSW are aware of their legislative obligations. Through ongoing engagement activities in the coal and metalliferous mining sectors we want to clearly outline our expectations, continue to identify and address knowledge gaps as well as share key learnings in order to promote leading practice tailings management state wide.

Tailings management workshop, April 2019

On 10 April we facilitated a one-day workshop with industry and other regulators that focused on leading practice methodologies and risks associated with tailings management.

Photographs captured at the April 2019 Tailings management workshop

The workshop, held at Dubbo RSL, attracted over 130 attendees and involved presentations and discussions on specific risks and knowledge gaps in tailings management to help develop targeted strategies to address these issues.

The keynote speaker, Professor David Williams, the Golder Professor of Geomechanics and the Director of the Geotechnical Engineering Centre within the School of Civil Engineering at The University of Queensland shared valuable research and innovations in the application of risk assessment and cost-effectiveness analysis to mine site rehabilitation and closures.

Feedback on the event was positive and has provided us with greater understanding of the value of these events and the need for similar collaborative efforts moving forward.

Workshop presentation resources

The agenda and presentations are available for download below.

Workshop video presentations

The Tailings management compliance priority project is a NSW Resources Regulator initiative to engage industry and other regulators to collaborate and develop leading practice methodologies and innovations in tailings storage facility management.

The following videos are recordings of the April 2019 Tailings management workshop presentations, including the panel discussion.