Tailings Management in Extractives – Standard-Setting Project

Page Last Updated: July 9, 2020

Project Overview

Project Objective
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.

Project Background

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. We can even see some Oil & Gas – Exploration & Production industry companies, that own or operate tailings storage facilities management, benefiting from improved transparency on the subject, given the investor interest and materiality of the topic.

Project Status

Current Status

Exposure drafts development with focus on metrics formulation for the two newly defined topics – Waste & [Hazardous Materials] Management and Tailings Management. Staff will continue research and consultation in further support of metrics development based on the preliminary decisions on disclosure topics made by the Board on June 23rd, 2020.

Next Steps

Exposure drafts recommendation to the Board during Q3 Standards Board meting in September 2020.

Contact Information

Ekaterina Hardin
Sector Analyst – Extractives & Minerals Processing, SASB

Published Documents & Supplemental Materials

Published Documents

There are no published documents or drafts at this time.

Supplemental Materials

Project Update and Call for Feedback: Tailings Management in Extractives, March 2020, online blog
Briefing Document, April 2020, PDF

Board Materials & Decisions

Board Meeting Outcomes

June 2020
• The Board discussed a preliminary decision to add a new Tailings Management disclosure topic to the Metals & Mining and Coal Operations
industry standards. The new topic will fall under SASB’s Leadership & Governance sustainability dimension and will be associated with the Critical Risk Incident Management general issue category. The Board expressed support for this preliminary decision with no Board members expressing significant concerns or reservations at this point.
• The preliminary decision included maintaining the Waste & [Hazardous Materials] Management disclosure topics in the two industry standards, but narrowing their scope to industrial waste issues as risks related to tailings and tailings storage facilities will be addressed in the new disclosure topics cited above.

Board Materials

June 2020

December 2019

For a full list of past and upcoming Standards Board meetings, as well as associated materials, please visit our Board Meetings Calendar & Archive.

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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.