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Factbox: Miners get new safety standards to avert tailings dam disasters

(Reuters) - An industry, investor and U.N. panel launched the global tailings management standard on Wednesday, a year-long effort spurred by the 2019 collapse of Vale SA's VALE3.SA Brumadinho upstream tailings dam that killed more than 250 people.

FILE PHOTO: Residents demonstrate in honor of victims of the collapse of a dam owned by Brazilian mining company Vale SA, in Brumadinho, Brazil February 25, 2019. REUTERS/Washington Alves/File Photo

The standard is aimed at preventing catastrophic mine waste dam failures, but a shortage of skilled engineers required to put the rules into practice will hamper adoption.

Here is a look at some of the details.

* Miners must appoint one or more accountable executives with responsibility for tailings safety who are directly answerable to the chief executive and have regular communication with the board.

* Miners will study “all feasible sites, technologies and strategies” for new tailings facilities to reduce risks.

* Develop mechanisms such that incentive payments or performance reviews are based, at least in part, on public safety and the integrity of the tailings facility.

* A commitment to cooperate in credible global initiatives to create standardised, independent, industry-wide and publicly accessible databases, inventories or other information repositories about safety and integrity of tailings facilities.

* Should a dam fail, miners are to work with public sector agencies and other stakeholders to develop and implement reconstruction, restoration and recovery plans.

* Miners must also show “adequate financial capacity (including insurance, to the extent commercially reasonable) is available” to cover closure and reclamation costs.

* An independent safety review of the riskiest structures must be completed at least every five years, with limits to stop one contractor from conducting consecutive reviews on the same facility.

* Miners should work to obtain and maintain free prior and informed consent where a new tailings facility may impact the rights of indigenous or tribal peoples, including land and resource rights and their right to self determination.

* Adherence to the standard “does not displace the requirements of any specific national, state or local governmental statutes, laws, regulations, ordinances, or other government directives,” the document says.

Reporting by Jeff Lewis; Editing by David Gregorio

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