June 6, 2019 / 11:35 PM / 6 months ago

Miner BHP Group sets up tailings taskforce to boost safety

FILE PHOTO: BHP Billiton Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie is silhouetted against a screen projecting the company's logo at a round table meeting with journalists in Tokyo, Japan June 5, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

(Reuters) - Global miner BHP Group said on Friday it has set up a tailings taskforce to further improve its focus on internal dam management and boost safety, months after a second deadly dam disaster in Brazil.

Earlier this year, the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), an industry trade group whose members include Glencore Plc, BHP and 25 others, said a committee will review and set standards for tailings dam design and maintenance by the end of the year.

In April, ethical investors working on a global standard for tailings dams had written to 683 listed resource companies, including major miners, asking for information to be made public within 45 days about every facility they control.

The Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) brings together ethical investors, including the Church of England, overseeing around $80 trillion (£63 trillion) worth of investments.

The move came after the collapse of Vale SA’s Brumadinho dam in Brazil in January that killed over 200 people, raising questions about the safety of tailings dams around the world.

That followed the 2015 collapse of a tailings dam operated by Samarco, a joint venture between BHP and Vale, killing 19 people in what was termed Brazil’s worst environmental disaster.

BHP said it has 67 operated tailings facilities across all of its sites, 12 of which are in Australia.

The world’s biggest miner also said that a review undertaken to assess the management of tailings facilities following the 2015 Samarco disaster had identified no immediate concerns regarding dam integrity.

Anglo American Plc on Friday published details of its 91 managed tailings storage facilities and additional 62 facilities at its joint venture operations, and said it was working on technologies to reduce the volume of waste materials produced.

Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan and Sangameswaran S in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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