The Global Tailings Portal, launched in January 2020, is a free, searchable database with detailed information on more than 1,800 mine tailings dams around the world. It enables users to sort data about tailings dams by location, company, dam type, height, volume, and risk, among other factors. The data was submitted by more than 100 of the world’s largest mining companies, in response to requests from institutional investors. Previously, very little information about mine tailings dams was publicly available. The portal is designed to be used by governments, scientists, the finance community, the mining industry, media, and civil society.
The portal was built and is hosted by GRID-Arendal in collaboration with the Investor Mining and Tailings Safety Initiative, which is co-Chaired by the Church of England Pensions Board and the Swedish National Pension Funds' Council on Ethics, with support from the UN Environment Programme.
This current “beta” version of the portal (24th January 2020), is still undergoing testing and, development and verification. We welcome feedback, and note that the portal provides links to the underlying public disclosures that companies have made.
More detailed information on the methodology applied to translate data from company disclosures into the portal database is available in our Methodology section, and further details of our quality assurance processes are available below.
In due course we intend to make the database available as a downloadable Excel and CSV file. Currently, this data is available on request from GRID-Arendal (see below).
On 25 January 2019, a mine tailings dam in Brumadinho, Brazil, collapsed, unleashing a torrent of mine waste that killed at least 259 people. It followed a previous tailings dam collapse in Mariana, Brazil, in 2015 that killed 19 people, and a longer history of other dam failures.
The 2019 disaster galvanized a group of major institutional investors to address the issue of mining and tailings safety and demand information from mining companies on where and how they store their waste. Led by the Church of England Pensions Board and the Swedish National Pension Funds' Council on Ethics, the group established the Investor Mining and Tailings Safety Initiative. The initiative is now supported by funds with more than US$13 trillion in assets under management.
In 2019, the Investor Mining and Tailings Safety Initiative asked 727 publicly listed mining companies for detailed disclosures on their tailings storage facilities (TSFs). As of December 2019, 332 had responded – of these, approximately 100 companies have tailings storage facilities and provided information. The data they submitted has been incorporated into the Global Tailings Portal.
The Methodology Section [here] provides information about how these disclosures have been incorporated into the Tailings Portal. The portal provides access to both the raw data disclosures and the database of these disclosures that GRID-Arendal has developed.
The development of the database has included a quality assurance protocol, where companies who submitted data have been contacted to verify their information. The database now includes a number of amendments, and we remain open to receiving comments and feedback from disclosing companies. Please see the ‘How to get in touch’ section below.
As of January 2020, approximately 60 companies have signed off on the data presented in the portal. The remaining companies are in the process of verifying their information. We recognise that the disclosures on which our data set is based may change over time, and companies are invited to contact us (and those who initiated the disclosure request) in order to help update our records. The Global Tailings Portal is convening an Advisory Group to guide the development of data processes and updates, in order to facilitate the good functioning of the portal as a tool for all stakeholders.
The Disclosure Questions
We intend for this database to be a global hub, providing up to date and reliable information on tailings storage facilities, in the public interest.
To date we have focused on information provided by publicly listed companies, but would welcome disclosures from private or state owned entities.
Phase 2 of the project includes work by Catapult Satellite Applications to test remote monitoring of dams using Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites. The project also aims to increase the number of dams described, as while the first round of disclosures has captured many of the world’s largest tailings dams there are still many more out there – both active and legacy sites, some of which may be “orphaned”, where it is not clear who carries responsibility (the actual number of tailings dams is debated with estimates ranging from 3,500 to 33,000).
The Investor Mining and Tailings Safety Initiative, along with the International Council on Mining and Metals, and UN Environment, is also calling for a new global standard for safer management of tailings storage facilities, which is being developed via an independent process: the Global Tailings Review. The Investor Mining and Tailings Safety Initiative is also working with insurers, banks, and the wider investment industry on additional ways to improve safety and accountability in the mining industry.
The Investor Mining and Tailings Safety Initiative and UNEP are in the process of appointing a management board to guide the future direction of this portal. The appointed members will also be responsible for working with stakeholders to update the disclosure questions and to align them with the Global Mine Tailings Standard, due for release in mid-2020.
The technical team consists of staff from GRID-Arendal, the University of Sydney, and Catapult Satellite Application (Phase 2 SAR application), supported by academics and industry professionals from a range of institutions and companies. The members of the Technical Team have developed the portal and will continue to work with the Management Board to incorporate stakeholder feedback and expand the content and functionality of the portal.
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The original data contains inconsistencies in reporting format and descriptors used (e.g. different consequent risk guidelines). We have dealt with these in a number of ways:
The original company disclosure information can be accessed at Church of England Inventor Mining and Tailings Safety Initiative.
The full database is also publicly available. In the near future you will be able to obtain the data directly from this site, however as this is the beta version of the database and not all companies have verified their data, we ask you to contact GRID-Arendal to obtain permission to download the TSF dataset and to receive notice of updates as they occur.
Mine tailings: Mine tailings are a major waste stream generated in mining operations. They are the waste material left over after the valuable component has been removed through processing. They include ground-up rock or sand, and the chemical reagents and process water used to extract the commodity. Downstream, Centreline dam construction:
In pit disposal: Tailings are backfilled into open pit mines and therefore require no
embankment to contain the material.
Dry stacking: Tailings are dewatered to produce a dry cake, which can be stacked.
Compacted outer shell: A type of filtered tailing storage, where dewatered tailings are contained within a compacted outer shell
The portal follows the principles of “data protection first”, as required by the EU/EEA's General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) which has been adopted by both UK and Norway by law. The project also adopts other guidance, standards and design principles outlined by the ICO and ENISA and other relevant bodies, aligning with the notions of ‘by design’ and ‘by default’ as key building blocks when considering data processing and investing in relevant best practice.
The security plan is be based on current best international practices (such as ISO:9001/ISO:27001/ISO:2500 frameworks).
1. GRID-Arendal have developed this first phase of a global tailings portal on behalf of the Investor Mining & Tailings Safety Initiative.
2. All information contained on this website is derived from publicly available sources from companies disclosing information on their tailings dams. This site is for general information use only. Information can change without notice and GRID-Arendal does not guarantee the accuracy of information on the website, including information provided by third parties, at any particular time.
3. This website does not provide investment advice and nothing on the site should be construed as being personalised investment advice for your particular circumstances.
4. Further updates will be made to the Portal to improve the functionality and design of the site and your constructive feedback is welcome. If you are a company referenced on this website and would like further information about the methodology used, or have any concerns about published information, then please contact us. us via the feedback form on the bottom of the website.
5. The spatial data is derived from the external resources, consequently GRID-Arendal is not liable for positioning inaccuracies, subsequent updates, errors, or omissions of data.
We will endeavour to respond to all queries in a timely manner, and we commit to prioritising queries from the companies whose disclosures we have presented in the Portal.
Please contact [GRID-Arendal] email address if you have a query about the portal.
Please contact the Investor Mining and Tailings Safety Initiative [email] if you have a query that relates to the disclosure request that was sent by institutional investors.