UN Environment set to tackle toxic mining waste storage

Mazino Dickson


The United Nations Environment, in conjunction with the International Council on Mining & Metals will launch an independent review to establish an international standard for tailings storage facilities to tackle toxic mining wastage.

This move comes following the recent tragedy in the Brazilian town of Brumadinho – where a tailings dam holding the byproducts of a nearby iron ore mine collapsed, sending a flood of metal-heavy mud downstream.

The Brumadinho disaster, which cost the lives of 206 people, has highlighted the need for a swift implementation of strong international standards for the containment of toxic mining waste.


The global environment agency says tailings dam failures have far-reaching environmental consequences, with the released toxic sludge seeping into the soil and nearby rivers.

“The review initiative will be informed by evidence and lessons learned from earlier dam failures,” it said in a statement

“The aim is to complete the review by the end of the year and to subsequently work on advocating for the broad acceptance and adoption of the international storage standards across the mining sector.

“The standards convened by the review would become member commitments of the International Council on Mining & Metals, compelling its international members to adhere to the recommendations outlined in the document,” it added.

An independent chair will be appointed, while a multi-stakeholder advisory panel is expected to assist.