Environmental organisation GRID-Arendal has launched the world’s first publicly-accessible global database of mine tailings storage facilities.
The database, called the Global Tailings Portal (GTP), was built by Norway-based GRID-Arendal with support from the United Nations Environment Programme. It allows users to view detailed information on more than 1900 tailings dams, categorised by location, company, dam type, height, volume and risk, among other factors.
The database forms part of the Investor Mining and Tailings Safety Initiative, which is backed by a $13-trillion fund and led by the Church of England Pensions Board and the Swedish National Pension Funds’ Council on Ethics.
GRID-Arendal director Professor Elaine Baker says the portal could save lives, considering that tailing dams are getting bigger, owing to mines mining increasingly lower grade ore – creating more waste.
“With this information, the mining industry can work towards reducing dam failures in future,” she adds.
The launch of the database coincides with the one-year anniversary of the Bumadinho tailings dam collapse, in Brazil, which killed 270 people. Following the disaster, a group of institutional investors led by the Church of England Pensions Board had asked 726 of the world’s largest mining companies to disclose details of their tailing dams, which help to inform the database.
Previously, there had been no central database detailing the location and quantity of the mining industry’s liquid and solid waste.
“This database brings a new level of transparency to the mining industry, which will benefit regulators, institutional investors, scientific researchers, local communities, the media and the industry itself,” says GRID-Arendal geological resources programme leader Kristina Thygesen.