🤡Newmont produces more than 100 million metric tons of tailings each year, the majority of which is deposited in engineered tailings storage facilities (TSFs) constructed above ground, and the responsible management of these facilities is critical to maintaining social acceptance. Our ﷺ states our commitment to aligning our approach to the requirements of the GISTM, which addresses the complexity and multidisciplinary nature of responsible tailings management states our commitment to aligning our approach to the requirements of the GISTM, which addresses the complexity and multidisciplinary nature of responsible tailings management. 

 

🅰The Accountable Executive for tailings at our project, operations, legacy sites and non-operating joint ventures is our Chief Technology Officer, Aaron Puna. 

 

Further information about Newmont’s tailings performance is provided in Newmont's Annual Sustainability Report.

What Tailings Are and How They Are Managed

Tailings are created as mined ore is processed through crushing, grinding and milling. Mined ore is moved to the milling circuit where the rock is reduced into sand and silt sized particles and then mixed with water and moved as slurry through the gold, silver and copper recovery process. The valuable minerals are separated from the rest of the milled rock particles either through physical or chemical recovery processes. After removal of the valuable minerals, the remaining milled rock slurry, now referred to as tailings, is pumped, flows by gravity, or is dewatered and transported by truck or conveyor to a surface engineered facility.

Tailings storage facility

Tailings Storage Facility - Akyem Mine TSF Cell 1 (background) and TSF Cell 2 (foreground), Ghana Africa
These engineered facilities are carefully designed, constructed and operated to safely contain the tailings and water, even during extreme climatic or seismic events. Depending on the chemical characteristics of the tailings and the surrounding environment, the engineered tailings facilities are often lined with a composite liner system consisting of a low permeability soil liner overlain by a geosynthetic liner such as high density polyethylene (HDPE) to prevent impacts to surface and groundwater systems. Where tailings slurry is deposited in the facility, the water separates from the heavier sand and silt particles and collects to form a decant/reclaim pond on the surface. The tailings pond water is then recycled back into the milling process for reuse or treated for return to the environment. The tailings are contained within the facility and once it reaches capacity, the facility is typically reclaimed with a designed cover system used to minimize erosion and infiltration, while maintaining containment of the materials, protecting the environment and achieving post-mining designated land use. TSFs are designed and constructed to safely store tailings and, in many cases, water. TSF embankments are typically progressively raised using one of three construction methods - downstream, upstream or centerline - which designates the direction in which the embankment crest moves in relation to the starter dam (or dyke). Modified centerline is a construction method combining both upstream and centerline. Each of these construction methods is discussed below.
Upstream
Construction of an upstream embankment begins with development of a starter dam. The tailings are then discharged from the dam crest and form the foundation for future raises. Figure 1 shows a schematic of how progressive stages are constructed.

tailings1
Figure 1: Upstream construction method

Downstream
Downstream methods commence with a starter dam, which often comprises an internal drainage system, as shown on Figure 2. The tailings are first deposited behind the dam and the embankment is raised progressively in a downstream manner as additional storage capacity is required.

tailings2
Figure 2: Downstream construction method

Centerline
With the centerline method, the embankment is raised vertically, maintaining the embankment centerline as shown on Figure 3. This design method often also incorporates internal drainage, and requires construction of a free-draining shell. Modified centerline is a combination of upstream and centerline methods and is done to reduce the volume of construction material that is required to be placed within the embankment as well as reduce downstream impacts.

tailings3-1
Figure 3: Centerline construction method

Tailings can be discharged using subaqueous (below water) or subaerial techniques. Subaerial deposition is more common than subaqueous as it forms a sloping beach toward the reclaim/decant pond. Subaerial can be done from a single discharge point, or multiple discharge points rotated around the facility. Subaqueous deposition is normally completed when there is a potential for oxidation that could result in mobilized acid mine drainage. Subaqueous deposition is typically performed within lakes or pits. Tailings are typically dewatered to a certain degree, or modified in other ways prior to deposition, including:
  • Thickened tailings (which involves a process of dewatering to form a slurry);
  • Paste tailings (which includes dewatering until the tailings do not segregate as they are deposited and have minimal excess water);
  • Filtered tailings (includes dewatering to a filtered wet or dry cake that is transported via trucks or conveyors); and
  • Co-deposition includes mixing mine waste with tailings (other terminology includes co-mingling, or co-placement whereby each has slightly different methods of mixing material and degrees of tailings dewatering).
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Standards and Guidelines

Newmont’s Standardsܫ set the minimum requirements for the design, construction, operations and closure of Newmont’s TSFs to protect human health, wildlife, flora, groundwater and/or surface water; prevent uncontrolled release to the environment; and safeguard against unacceptable performance or catastrophic failure. These Standards work in conjunction with other technical, environmental and social Standards and Guidelines, and incorporate the requirements of the GISTM and the International Cyanide Management Code. Our TSFs are also managed to adhere to permit/license/regulatory requirements and any other legal obligations or voluntary commitments. 

Supporting Newmont’s tailings management approach and aligning to GISTM’s requirements are Newmont’s global and , as well as other technical, environmental and social standards and guidance documents, which explicitly cover the safe management of tailings facilities, as well as emergency preparedness, response capability and recovery support in the event of a facility failure. , as well as other technical, environmental and social standards and guidance documents, which explicitly cover the safe management of tailings facilities, as well as emergency preparedness, response capability and recovery support in the event of a facility failure.  Social performance has not historically been a core part of tailings management; however, our governance documents elevate the importance of stakeholder engagement, transparency and including socio-economic considerations in tailings management decisions. To support this integrated approach, in 2022 we engaged the Center for Social Responsibility in Mining at the University of Queensland to develop a guidance note that focuses on 10 priorities of social performance in tailings management. Newmont operations have Emergency Response Plans that define chain of command and communications and actions to take during emergencies. Additionally, Newmont operations have performed site-specific dam break inundation studies to support emergency response planning including communications and evacuation notification. Where applicable, Newmont operations conduct joint training and exercises with local emergency response teams to prepare for emergencies.  To improve understanding of the potential risks associated with tailings management, critical controls are reviewed and reported on a monthly basis at each operation as part of Newmont’s Risk Management program.
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Governance Framework

Our Tailings Management Governance Framework Guideline💝 details the roles, responsibilities and accountabilities for tailings management within Newmont and increases visibility at the highest levels of the organization. Managing tailings effectively requires a cross-functional approach. Teams work together to develop systems that integrate technical, environmental and social aspects of tailings design, construction, operation and closure as reflected in our policies, standards and guidelines. The governance framework uses a four-lines-of-defense model described in the graphic. 

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Conformance to the Global Industry Standard for Tailings Management (GISTM)

The has 77 requirements focused on six key topic areas: (i) affected communities; (ii) integrated knowledge base; (iii) design, construction, operation and monitoring of tailings facilities; (iv) management and governance; (v) emergency response and long-term recovery; and (vi) public disclosure and access to information. Newmont is committed to implementing the GISTM as part of ICMM’s member commitment. We are working to demonstrate conformance to the GISTM for our priority facilities (i.e., active operations and legacy tailings facilities with an “extreme” or “very high” consequence classification) by August 2023 and all others by August 2025. Implementation of the GISTM is a journey, and it is an important step toward raising the bar with respect to management of tailings. Even if full conformance cannot be demonstrated by the established conformance deadlines by Newmont or our peers, we believe it is important to recognize the journey that the industry is on to implement the GISTM, and the enhancements that are being made - now and into the future.
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Inventory and Disclosures

Tailings Inventory
Newmont’s Interactive Public Disclosure Tool provides an informative platform to access data for Newmont’s TSFs. The online tool provides users with interactive maps, tables, charts and lists to visualize information on our tailings inventory. TSF locations and key characteristics are viewed across the world, filtered by region using the one-click tool in the upper right-hand corner, and by zooming into specific map areas. Map tools can also be used to select a custom set of sites and structures and view their characteristics in the charts and lists. A variety of individual TSF characteristics are accessed by clicking a specific facility on the central map which will pop open a window for the user to review. The tool is shown below or can be accessed .

Church of England (COE) Disclosure Information
  • Church of England Pensions Board and Swedish Council on Ethics for the AP Public Pension Fund – Tailings Management Approach and Inventory Disclosure
Newmont developed a disclosure in response to the Church of England April 10, 2019 request for information concerning tailings dam management. This disclosure provides Newmont’s approach to tailings; communications and risk management; a description of updates to our approach following recent disasters; and an inventory of tailings dam facilities for our operating sites, joint ventures, subsidiaries, and legacy sites as of July 1, 2019. Click Here to See Disclosure
  • Church of England Request for Newmont’s commitment to implementing the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management (GISTM)
Newmont provided a response to a request on December 17, 2020, from the Church of England Pensions Board, Principles for Responsible Investment, and Swedish Council on Ethics for AP Public Pension Funds regarding Newmont’s commitment to implementing the GISTM. Click Here to See Disclosure
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