Page Last Updated: March 4, 2020
Tailings Management in Extractives – Standard-Setting Project
The current standards for the Metals & Mining and Coal Operations industries within the Extractives & Minerals Processing Sector are being evaluated for potential revision to ensure the set of disclosures fully captures the risks associated with company management of tailings storage facilities (TSF). The project also aims to improve global applicability of the standards.
Tailings are mining operations waste, usually stored in ponds or dams, frequently covering very large land areas. Impoundments for tailings can present a significant threat if they collapse, potentially leading to the loss of life and/or damage to property and ecosystems, which bears significant financial implications. Recent catastrophic failures of TSFs include Imperial Metal’s 2014 release of waste slurry in Canada’s Polley Lake, a 2015 dam failure in Mariana, Brazil (a Vale/BHP joint venture), which entailed $6 billion in expenditures to restore the environment and affected communities, and Vale’s tragic January 2019 dam collapse in Brumadinho, which resulted in a $4.95 billion loss for the company in the first quarter after the disaster.
Since the SASB standards were codified in November 2018, there has been a significant evolution of investor interest and corporate disclosure related to tailings facilities management. Management of tailings facilities has been included in the SASB standards for the Metals & Mining and Coal Operations industries since SASB developed its first, provisional exposure draft for these industries in 2014. However, as global investors continue to express interest in the topic and evaluate the utility of various existing and proposed reporting frameworks, we believe there is opportunity to improve the industry standards in this area.
Summary of consultation and proposal to the board on Standards updates
Board Meeting Outcomes
- The Board unanimously agreed to add a project on Tailings Management in Extractives to its standard setting agenda during Q4 2019 meeting.
For a full list of past and upcoming Standards Board meetings, as well as associated materials, please visit our Board Meetings Calendar & Archive.
The staff has prepared this summary for informational purposes only. Any Standards Board decisions are tentative and do not change current accounting. Official positions of SASB are determined only after extensive due process and deliberations.