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Safety guidelines and good practices for Tailings Management Facilities

Published: May 2014

Safety guidelines and good practices for Tailings Management Facilities

May 2014

Available in English and Russian 

Failures at Tailings Management Facilities (TMFs) may lead to major environmental catastrophes with devastating effects on humans and the environment both within and across countries, as demonstrated by major past accidents in the UNECE region, such as the dam break of a tailings pond at a mining facility in Baia Mare (Romania, 2000) and, more recently, the aluminium sludge spill in Kolontar (Hungary, 2010) or the accident at the Talvivaara Mining Company (Finland, 2012).

In response to the need to improve the safety of tailings management facilities, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) member countries decided to jointly develop safety guidelines and good practices for tailings management facilities under two UNECE Conventions — the Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents (Industrial Accidents Convention) and the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention).

The safety guidelines and good practices were endorsed by the Conference of the Parties to the Industrial Accidents Convention at its fifth meeting (Geneva, 25–27 November 2008) and by the Meeting of the Parties to the Water Convention at its fifth session (Geneva, 10–12 November 2009). Authorities, tailings management facility operators and the public are invited to apply these guidelines and good practices, which are intended to contribute to limiting the number of accidents at tailings management facilities and the severity of their consequences for human health and the environment.