The construction, operation and decommissioning of tailings storage facilities (incorporating dams) involves managing multiple issues that have the potential to affect safe and sustainable mining operations and rehabilitation outcomes.

There are many publicised cases of tailings storage facility failures across the world, resulting in escaping tailings materials off site, and or, significant landform instability issues. Safety consequences range from the displacement of downstream communities to significant injuries and the death to mine workers and members of the public.

Environmental impacts have included:

  • polluting downstream rivers and land
  • groundwater contamination
  • native wildlife poisoning through exposure to adverse tailings and dust generated from exposed tailings material.

Recent compliance activities have identified uncertainties and knowledge gaps in managing tailings storage facilities. Our goal is to ensure that title holders 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, and share key lessons to promote leading practice in tailings storage facility management.