Towards a Global Research Consortium on Tailings

27 February 2019
The University of Queensland is proposing to convene a Global Research Consortium on Tailings to bring together the world’s leading thinkers in tailings and mine waste management: researchers, practitioners, industry professionals, regulators, civil society and community representatives.

The vision of the consortium is a 3-year multi-party collaborative initiative at the scale of $3-5M/year to develop transdisciplinary knowledge-solutions (science, technology and practices) to address the social, environmental and economic risks of tailings.

The management of mine and mineral processing wastes are one of humanity’s greatest challenges. Tailings arguably represent the most significant risk that the mining industry poses to the environment and communities globally.

Tailings spills, dam failures, seepage, unrehabilitated sites and cases of direct discharge into waterways can leave environmental, social and economic legacies for thousands of years. They have disproportionately shaped the reputation of the minerals industry, eroded public trust and the willingness of governments and communities to support new operations, and are reshaping the calculations of risk made by financial institutions and investors.

Investment in research by industry and the public sector has expanded the approaches available to address tailings management challenges but much of this learning remains underutilised. Innovations such as thickened tailings, dry stacking and paste backfill, have yet to find widespread uptake, and the safety and stability of a large number of existing conventional tailings storage facilities is in question.  A global coordinated effort is necessary to meet the scale of the tailings challenge.

Download Concept Note, Towards a Global Research Consortium on Tailings