Investors with $10 trillion in assets pressure miners over tailings safety


The move is aimed at providing a tool for institutional investors to assess the risk from their holdings in mining companies

The Investor Mining & Tailings Safety Initiative has requested that over 600 resource companies, including major miners, reveal the safety records of their waste storage facilities, following the collapse of Vale’s Brumadinho dam in Brazil in January, which killed hundreds.

Following the disaster, a group of 96 institutional investors (representing more than $10.3 trillion assets under management) have written to 683 extractive companies seeking greater disclosure on the management of tailings storage facilities.

The companies addressed, including major names in the mining industry such as BHP, Rio Tinto, Anglo American, Glencore and Vale itself, have been given 45 days to publicly disclose their dams’ size, construction methods and safety records.

About 100 investors, led by the Church of England Pensions Board and Sweden’s public pension fund, expect the companies to publish the answers to 20 questions sent, covering issues such as the height and type of dams they have, their capacity, engineering records and safety checks.

Industry group the International Council on Mining and Minerals (ICMM) said in March it was working with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) to develop new standards.

Currently there are no set of universal rules defining exactly what a tailings dam is, how to build one and how to care for it after it is decommissioned…