Management of tailings and water retaining dams is an integral part of our mining and processing activities. We recognise the potential risks that Tailings Storage Facilities (TSFs) could present to our people, our communities, the environment and our business and are committed to the safe and responsible management of our TSFs.

Our approach to tailings management 

Our approach to TSF management is designed to maintain their structural integrity. We design, construct, operate, monitor, maintain and decommission all our TSFs consistent with regulatory requirements, applicable guidelines, standards and obligations. 

We apply this rigour across all phases of the TSF life cycle, from initial planning and site location through to closure, rehabilitation, post-closure monitoring and maintenance. 

Our approach is consistent with the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) Tailings Governance Framework and Position Statement on Preventing Catastrophic Failure of Tailings Storage Facilities, in addition to industry practices such as the Australian National Committee on Large Dams (ANCOLD) guidelines. These requirements are embedded in our internal dam management standard.

We support the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management which launched in August 2020 and represents a significant step forward for the safer management of TSFs. Our focus is on the implementation of the Standard as part of our ICMM membership commitment.

Tailings disposal techniques

TSFs are designed to achieve compaction and consolidation of the tailings material. This is achieved by designing the tailings disposal method to manage the removal of water from the tailings slurry. 

South32 employs several tailings disposal techniques, including the disposal of conventional unthickened tailings slurry, thickened tailings and filtered tailings.

Tailings storage facilities

We have 37 TSFs located across our sites, including our owned and operated sites and those that we operate on behalf of joint venture partners. Twenty of these TSFs are active and 16 are inactive, with one closed. In addition, 33 TSFs are operated by our joint venture partners.

Read more in the directory of our TSFs across our sites, and the TSFs of our non-operated interests: 2020 Directory of Tailings Storage Facilities.

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