Industry Leaders

Senior Director Global Tailings Management, Newmont Corporation, USA and Tailings 2023 Chair Senior Director Global Tailings Management, Newmont Corporation, USA and Tailings 2023 Chair

Kimberly Morrison

"The theme of the Tailings 2023 conference is Building Trust in Tailings Management. The conference organizers invited keynote presentations from companies such as Vale who will be discussing their tailings management journey, including building trust after recent failure events, and are engaging with other potential keynote speakers on stakeholder engagement to support the dialogue and overall theme".

17 de mayo

 1. Close to three years on from the publication of the GISTM, how do you think the industry has reacted to the publication? Although it is a voluntary standard, are you seeing the majority of companies look to comply with it?

Industry, in general, has embraced the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management (or GISTM) to provide step-change improvement in the management of tailings facilities globally. All members of the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) have committed to implementation of the GISTM for priority facilities (those with Extreme or Very High consequence classification) by August 2023 and all other facilities by August 2025. Favourably, we are seeing that investors, insurers and other external influencers are providing preference to operators that commit to implementation of the GISTM. Further, there is a move to establish a Global Tailings Management Institute to manage conformance with the GISTM in many of the same ways as the International Cyanide Management Institute (ICMI) manages conformance with the cyanide code, which would further elevate those operators that demonstrate GISTM conformance.

2. In theory, how easy is it to meet all of the requirements of the GISTM? Is there enough expertise out there to, for example, engage an EOR for all tailings facilities?

The GISTM has 77 requirements focused on six key topic areas: (i) affected communities; (ii) integrated knowledge base; (iii) design, construction, operation and monitoring of tailings facilities; (iv) management and governance; (v) emergency response and long-term recovery; and (vi) public disclosure and access to information. The requirements of the GISTM are generally focused on best international practices within these topic areas. However, there are varied interpretations of what conformance means for many of the GISTM requirements. ICMM has developed Conformance Protocols to support implementation, which is useful to support alignment, as well as engagement with industry peers. The eventual development of the Global Tailings Management Institute will further support alignment on the requirements.

From Newmont’s perspective, it may not be easy to demonstrate full conformance with each of the requirements by August 2023 for priority facilities (or August 2025 for non-priority facilities). Implementation of the GISTM is a journey, and it is an important step toward raising the bar with respect to management of tailings. Even if full conformance cannot be demonstrated by the established deadlines, we believe it is important to recognize the journey that the industry is on to implement the GISTM, and the enhancements that are being made - now and into the future. One area that is posing more challenging for the industry is “meaningful engagement” with respect to tailings management decisions and emergency response planning, having mining companies interpreting the requirements differently. The industry is working within ICMM to align on the expectations in this regard.

With respect to management and governance, the industry already sees a shortage of qualified personnel to serve as Responsible Tailings Facility Engineers (RTFEs), Engineers of Records (EoRs) and on Independent Tailings Review Boards (ITRBs), and this shortage will become ever more challenging to fulfil as more companies align to the GISTM requirements and as more tailings facilities are constructed. A research study conducted by the Colorado State University (CSU) into this challenge was published in late 2022 in an article titled “Characterizing tailings professional labor demand ,” in the Mining Engineering magazine (a publication of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (SME)) that highlighted the growing demand for tailings labor resources and the need for collaboration within academia and industry to recruit, train and retain future tailings professionals.

3. Is this leading to more collaboration between mining companies, engineers, consultants and other experts to address these issues? Could you provide any examples here?

Collaboration in the tailings management space is at an all-time high, with numerous examples to provide of areas where we, at Newmont, are collaborating with others. In fact, for my keynote at the upcoming Tailings 2023 conference, I will be presenting on "Improving Tailings Performance Through Innovation and Industry Collaboration," so will hit a few of the high points here as far as our/Newmont’s collaboration with others.

Newmont is an industry partner of both the TAilings and IndustriaL waste ENGineering (TAILENG) Center and the Tailings Center together with other mining companies, consulting firms and service providers:

• TAILENG is a research center dedicated to advancing the state of knowledge and practice in the design of tailings and industrial waste storage facilities. TAILENG is a consortium of faculty from four universities: Georgia Tech; Colorado State University (CSU); UC Berkeley; and University of Illinois.

• The Tailings Center was formed in early 2020 by the Colorado School of Mines (CSM), Colorado State University (CSU), and the University of Arizona (UA) to provide an academic hub for tailings and mine waste education and research that crosses disciplinary boundaries and produces critically needed tailings professionals, recruit top students to tailings and mine waste careers, introduces tailings and mine waste to mining engineers, and advances the tools for environmental stewardship of tailings and mine waste.

Newmont is also actively working with our industry peers as part of various working groups within the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), such as the Tailings Working Group which led development of the Tailings Management Good Practice Guide , training modules on the Guide, and the Conformance Protocols to support GISTM implementation. Through involvement in the Tailings Working Group, we have ongoing and frequent collaboration on interpretation and application of the GISTM requirements as we are all actively working toward conformance.

After the 2019 failure at Brumadinho, the Global Minerals Professionals Alliance (GMPA) launched their Global Action on Tailings (or GAT) Initiative to address challenges concerning tailings disposal and storage. The GMPA is a collaboration between association of minerals professionals around the world, including: AusIMM; CIM; IOM3; IIMCh; IIMP; SAIMM; SME; and WAIMM. Since 2021, I have been serving as the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration’s (SME’s) representative to the GAT. Within SME, I also served as the founding Chair of their Tailings & Mine Waste Committee. This committee has had numerous collaborative successes, partially with engagement through GMPA’s GAT. Most notably, this included publishing the first edition of the Tailings Management Handbook: A Lifecycle Approach with more than 100 global contributors - including several world-renowned experts – producing the most comprehensive resource in the tailings industry with more than 40 chapters and more than 40 case studies featuring real-world successes and lessons learned.

4. How do you see the GISTM, other voluntary standards and regulations relating to tailings management evolving in the next decade? Do you expect these to be revised to incorporate more stakeholder input on a regular basis?

The GISTM is a good first step in establishment of a global standard for industry, which raises the bar and strives to eliminate catastrophic failures. The GISTM sets the bar high with respect to meaningful engagement, but is not prescriptive in the approach. Regulatory processes such as project permitting typically require robust stakeholder engagement, input and response; this should be anticipated to only increase in the future with respect to tailings management.

With plans underway to develop a Global Tailings Management Institute to manage conformance with the GISTM, it is anticipated that the GISTM itself will evolve somewhat over time.

In addition to the GISTM and regulatory processes, there are other sustainability reporting frameworks such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) that are starting to ask for more information about tailings management and tailings-related risks, and we are seeing increased requests from insurance companies and investors on tailings; we anticipate that this trend will continue to increase.

The theme of the Tailings 2023 conference is “Building Trust in Tailings Management.” The conference organizers invited keynote presentations from companies such as Vale who will be discussing their tailings management journey, including building trust after recent failure events, and are engaging with other potential keynote speakers on stakeholder engagement to support the dialogue and overall theme.

5. Is this likely to lead to the increased uptake of tailings technologies such as filtering or co-mingling with waste rock?

At Newmont, we are very excited on other collaborations related to technological improvements in the tailings management space, and are looking forward to sharing them with you shortly.

6. How can gatherings like Tailings 2023 help mining companies and other interested parties gain insights into where the industry is heading in this regard?

Conferences such as Tailings 2023 are excellent platforms for knowledge sharing and bringing together those interested in tailings management; attendance at such events is exceeding pre-pandemic numbers.