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Gold miner releases tailings policy


Tailings being washed down for processing at one of DRD Golds tailing facilities in Johannesburg

RESPONSIBLE ACTOR The tailings management policy set out by DRD Gold will ensure the interests of all stakeholders are adequately attended to

25th November 2022

     

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Global gold miner DRDGold released its tailings management policy, earlier this month.

The aim of the new policy is to ensure that the interests of all relevant stakeholders – including shareholders, board members, executive and operational management, operating personnel, regulators and potentially impacted parties – are adequately attended to in respect of the design, construction and management of the company’s tailings disposal facilities.

In the policy, DRDGold acknowledged that an inherent part of its operations, which retreat tailings, is the requirement that facilities store such tailings after processing.

Importantly, the design, construction and management of tailings storage facilities are to be done to a geotechnical standard that will ensure the safety and stability of such facilities.

Additionally, the effective containment of waste in tailings is required to prevent pollution, which, in turn, requires the implementation and maintenance of effective standards of environmental containment and governance.

To ensure that the interests of stakeholders receive due consideration, standards and practices must be periodically reviewed against the standards and policies that are developed, recommended and prescribed by authoritative and representative oversight organisations and movements.

The policy also states that good corporate governance assumes a level of ongoing, independent oversight to provide assurance to management and the board, both in terms of the adequacy of management standards and the extent to which they are being adhered to, and the status and condition of the facility.

The policy highlights that DRDGold will undertake to create and maintain a tailings disposal plan, as well as policies that are optimally integrated into the operational plans of the company, for the expected or planned duration of all its operating activities.

The tailings disposal plan aims to create facilities for the permanent storage of tailings that do not impact on the surrounding natural environment beyond objectively acceptable standards and that do not leave an enduring negative socioeconomic impact.

The plan is meant to be cost effective to maximise the benefits to be derived from processing of the company’s resource while integrating the tailings disposal into the entire planning process and its total value proposition.

The company says the plan will also create systems for the ongoing measuring and capturing of essential data to monitor the level of risk at appropriate intervals and facilitate effective risk management.

Further, it will be legally compliant and conform to norms and standards proportionate to the potential risk posed by the facility and its operations.

The company will engage appropriately qualified, experienced and skilled managerial, technical specialist and operating personnel to create and maintain the tailings disposal plan.

It stressed that every plan for each situation or facility will define the objective, the design, the operational implementation requirements, and the management protocols and systems to ensure sustained compliance and good governance in respect of said facility.

It will identify and prescribe the resources – financial, material and human – to give effect to the plan, as well as train, empower and obligate the assigned human resources to manage, execute and implement the plan.

Through periodic review by independent experts, it will ensure the continued applicability and effectiveness of the plans and management protocols over the lives of operations.

The DRDGold tailings management policy will help the miner plan and manage effective transition from the operating phase to a sustainable end use in fulfilment of the objective.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor

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