Extractives & Minerals Processing
Public Comment Period
Public Comment Period open
End Date: March 17, 2021
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. 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.
- Phase 1 - Initial Research
- Phase 2 - Stakeholder Consultation
- Phase 3 - Post-Consultation Analysis
- Phase 4 - Exposure Draft Development
- Phase 5 - Public Comment Period
- Phase 6 - Standards Board Deliberations
- Phase 7 - Completed
Proposed changes to the SASB Metals & Mining and Coal Operation Standards along with the Invitation to comment on Exposure Drafts and Basis for Conclusions public comment period is in progress and will conclude on March 17, 2021.
SASB’s Standards Board will consider all public comments submitted and conduct deliberations based on the comments received. At that time, the Standards Board may pursue further revisions of the relevant industry standards or may approve the exposure draft as is. Upon the approval of the proposed changes by the Standards Board, the approved version will supersede the 2018 version of the Metals & Mining and Coal Operations standards.
Published Documents & Supplemental Materials
- Project Update and Call for Feedback: Tailings Management in Extractives, March 2020, online blog
- Briefing Document, April 2020, PDF
- Today in Market Feedback: Tailings Management in Extractives, September 2020, online blog
- Tailings Management Project Enters Public Comment Period, December 2020, online blog
Board Materials & Decisions
Board Meeting Outcomes
- Staff presented metrics developed for the two disclosure topics under the project’s scope – Waste & Hazardous Materials Management and Tailings Storage Facilitates Management. Metrics were modeled for the Metals & Mining Industry and would be modified for Coal Operations Industry appropriately.
- The Board discussed open issues such as the lack of globally accepted definitions of hazardous waste and materials; the preferred format of disclosure for the Tailings Storage Facilities Management topic – aggregate per company vs. tabular per site; and options for defining “material findings” that may result from companies’ dam safety reviews.
- Next steps in the project will consist of developing exposure drafts for both industries and submitting those to the Standards Board for a vote in the coming weeks
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.