Environment employees walking on tailings

Tailings management

Responsibly managing waste from mining operations is essential, as is being transparent with our stakeholders about our tailings facilities and how we manage them.

We strive to protect the health and safety of people, and to protect the surrounding environment, in the best way we can, everywhere we operate. Our tailings facilities are regulated, permitted and have been managed for many years to comply with local laws, regulations, permits, licenses and other requirements. Tailings facility management has been included in the Group risk register since 2010, and our Group Safety Standard for the Management of Tailings and Water Storage Facilities and the supporting Group Procedure for the Management of Tailings and Water Storage Facilities have been in place since 2015, and are updated periodically. Our internal assurance processes verify that the tailings facilities we manage are operated in accordance with this Group Standard.

Management of Tailings and Water Storage Standard
Management of Tailings & Water Storage Standard
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Management of Tailings & Water Storage Standard [FR]
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240 KB
Management of Tailings and Water Storage Procedure
Management of Tailings & Water Storage Procedure
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Management of Tailings & Water Storage Procedure [FR]
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498 KB

Our Tailings Policy was released in July 2021, reinforcing our commitment to proactive, safe and sustainable tailings management, helping to protect the health and safety of our people, communities and the environment in every region we work in.

Tailings Policy
Tailings Policy
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Tailings Policy [FR]
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In 2016, we joined the Tailings Working Committee convened by the International Council on Mining & Metals (ICMM), which conducted a tailings management review of its member companies. Our work helped inform the ICMM’s Tailings Governance Framework Position Statement, published in 2016, including the six elements of tailings facility governance.

Rio Tinto is committed to sound health, safety, environmental, and engineering practices. In these areas it requires operations we manage to seek continual improvement and leading practices. To achieve these commitments, Rio Tinto has established a formal dam safety programme through the Group Safety Standard for the Management of Tailings and Water Storage Facilities. The programme delivers appropriate design, construction, operational management, surveillance, and reviews throughout the life cycle of our tailings and water storage facilities.

Our operational tailings facilities have emergency response plans in place; these are tested through training exercises in collaboration with local responders and emergency services, and are governed through our internal Business Resilience and Response Planning Group Procedure.

 

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Our tailings facilities

Rio Tinto operates a diverse portfolio of tailings facilities at various stages of the tailings facility lifecycle, including tailings contained within engineered earthen embankments and tailings deposited into previously mined open pits. Some tailings facilities consist of embankments constructed in a single phase; others have been raised several times over their active life to increase tailings storage capacity.

Information about the tailings facilities that Rio Tinto operates can be found on our interactive tailings disclosure map.

For each of our tailings facilities with ‘Very High’ and ‘Extreme’ GISTM consequence classifications, we have published a Tailings Facility Disclosure under Principle 15 of the GISTM that provides information on implementation status and summaries of our tailings management processes. In addition, the tailings information published in response to the request for public disclosures on tailings by the Investor Mining and Tailings Safety Initiative (IMTSI) is also accessible. For the remaining tailings facilities with ‘Low’, ‘Significant’ and ‘High’ GISTM consequence classifications, we have published the IMTSI public disclosures information; Tailings Facility Disclosures under Principle 15 of GISTM will be available for all Rio Tinto operated tailings facilities by August 2025.

We periodically update the list of tailings facilities to reflect operational and ownership changes, including changes relating to closure or remediation obligations for legacy assets and reclassification of tailing facilities as these develop over the life of operations.

Operated Tailings Facilities
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Tailings management at our non-operated sites

Rio Tinto also has an interest in other mining operations through joint ventures and other business entities, and through our connection to legacy assets. Sites with tailings facilities in which Rio Tinto has an interest include: Alumar, Blackbird, Escondida, Gladstone Power Station, Mineração Río do Norte, Olette, Ranger, and Saint Cyr. Refer to the operator or owner for information on these tailings facilities.

For our non-managed joint venture operational sites with tailings facilities, we actively participate in technical committees in an advisory capacity with our joint venture partners. Each of the technical committees has a Tailings Steering Committee, or equivalent, to support the effective management of tailings.

 

The Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management (GISTM)

The Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management (GISTM) was developed by the Global Tailings Review, a multi-disciplinary expert panel co-convened by the ICMM, PRI and UNEP following the Brumadinho tailings disaster in January 2019. The GISTM was released on 5 August 2020; the GISTM focuses tailings management practices on the prevention of tailings facility failures, reducing the social and environmental impacts of tailings facilities, and improving engagement and transparency on tailings with local communities.

Rio Tinto has committed to implementing the GISTM. We recognise that the GISTM is driving a step-change in tailings management and we are building on our existing tailings management practices. We also acknowledge that the GISTM strives to achieve the ultimate goal of zero harm to people and the environment with zero tolerance for human fatality – this is aligned with Rio Tinto’s values of care, courage and curiosity and our strong safety culture.

We have appointed Accountable Executives for tailings, who are accountable for the safety of tailings facilities and for minimising the social and environmental consequences of a potential tailings facility failure. The Accountable Executives have enabled and supported the implementation of the GISTM within the business. Implementation has taken significant effort from a wide range of qualified and experienced personnel and consultants, and has required us to collaborate closely with our ICMM peers, industry experts, our stakeholders and host communities.

Rio Tinto’s existing Standards for tailings and water storage management, environment, communities and social performance, risk and closure address many of the requirements of the GISTM. Where the GISTM introduced additional requirements programmes of work were undertaken. In alignment with our commitment to implement GISTM, we are publishing information required under Principle 15 of the GISTM for our tailings facilities with GISTM consequence classifications of ‘Very High’ and ‘Extreme’. Publishing of information required under Principle 15 for our tailings facilities with lower consequence classifications will commence from August 2025.

Consequence classifications are not ratings of the condition of a tailings facility or the likelihood of failure; instead, they rate the potential consequence if the tailings facility were to fail.

With safety and transparency being core principles for Rio Tinto and the GISTM, we have engaged with local communities about the ‘Very High’ and ‘Extreme’ consequence classification tailings facilities located in the areas where we operate and will continue to share relevant information and seek input.

We are committed to cooperating in transparency initiatives that will provide standardised, independent, industry-wide and publicly accessible inventories of information about the safety and integrity of tailings facilities.

 

Weipa

Our conformance with the GISTM

Our tailings facilities are managed under the Rio Tinto Group Safety Standard for the Management of Tailings and Water Storage Facilities, which is focused on ensuring tailings facility safety during construction, operation and closure.

We have assessed our progress on implementation of the GISTM through self-assessment and independent audits using the ICMM’s GISTM Conformance Protocols.

Much of the implementation work is already complete for the tailings facilities that have a ‘Very High’ or ‘Extreme’ consequence classification, and all these tailings facilities are nearing conformance with the GISTM; however, there is still work to do to complete the implementation and to embed the changes made.

Implementation work programmes are specific to each tailings facility, however common areas where work remains include:

  • Ongoing engagement with communities and stakeholders on emergency response and long-term recovery strategies
  • The demonstration of risk reduction to As Low As Reasonably Practicable (ALARP) level
  • The development of designs for closure of the tailings facilities
  • The implementation of additional monitoring at our legacy tailings facilities
  • Finalisation of the appointment of Engineers of Record for legacy tailings facilities
  • Assessment of historical design, construction and operation of legacy tailings facilities

While the timing for completion of each work programme varies, we anticipate that this work will be delivered progressively and all ‘Very High’ and ‘Extreme’ consequence classification tailings facilities will fully meet the requirements of the GISTM in 2024 (except where longer-term engineering works are required).

The ICMM notes that although the ICMM member companies have undertaken sustained effort to bring their highest consequence facilities into conformance with the Standard in just three years, it is anticipated that some companies will not achieve full conformance with the Standard’s requirements within this timeframe.

 

Tailings facility disclosures

The Tailings Facility Disclosure for each of our ‘Very High’ and ‘Extreme’ consequence tailings facilities can be downloaded from the links below.

Gove
Gove - Pond 4
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Gove - Pond 5
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1.37 MB
IOC
IOC Sept Iles - Tailings
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1.41 MB
Kelian
Kelian - Namuk TSF
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1.35 MB
Kelian - Namuk TSF [ID]
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378 KB
QAL
QAL - RMD1
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1.39 MB
QAL - RMD2
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1.4 MB
Salindres
Salindres - 0431-B2
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1.39 MB
Segoussac
Segoussac - 0126
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1.4 MB
Segoussac - 0126 [FR]
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436 KB
Tom Price
Tom Price - TSF2A
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1.44 MB
Vaudreuil
Vaudreuil - Pond 4
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1.49 MB
Vaudreuil - Pond 4 [FR]
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517 KB
Weipa
Weipa - East Weipa TSF4
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1.38 MB
Weipa - Torro TSF
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1.21 MB
Whinnyhall
Whinnyhall - Landfill
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1.33 MB
Yarwun
Yarwun - RMA1
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1.37 MB

The information provided in the Tailings Facility Disclosure for each tailings facility should be read in conjunction with the Group-level Tailings Management Information, which provides supporting information for the disclosures and further details on Rio Tinto’s approach to tailings management in relation to the requirements of the GISTM. This information is provided as an Appendix to each Tailings Facility Disclosure, and can also be downloaded separately here.

The Tailings Facility Disclosure required under Principle 15 of the GISTM for each of our ‘Very High’ and ‘Extreme’ consequence tailings facilities can also be accessed through our interactive tailings disclosure map.

Appendix A - Group-Level Tailings Management Information
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1.09 MB
We've released a new interactive map of our global tailings facilities, with more detailed summaries for priority sites in alignment with the independent Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management (GISTM).

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