C of E Pensions Board ‘cautiously welcomes’ ICMM statement on dam safety

The Church of England Pensions Board has said the International Council on Mining and Metals’ (ICMM) intentions to create new standards for tailing dams following the Vale dam disaster in Brazil last month is a “welcome step in the right direction”.

The collapse of the Vale dam in Brazil, which saw the deaths of around 169 people in January, with many still missing, led to joint calls from the Church of England Pension Board, Church Commissioners of England and Sweden’s Public Pension Funds for a global independent public classification system and corresponding independent and public audits that monitor the safety risk of mining company tailings dams.

The call by investors is now supported by funds with £5trn in assets under management having since its launch grown from £1trn.

Yesterday, 26 February, the ICMM released a statement announcing that its governing council of 27 member CEOs will establish an independent panel of experts to develop an international standard for tailings facilities for its member companies. The standard will be informed by a review of current global best practices in the mining industry, and beyond.

The ICMM said the standard will create a “step change “ for the industry in the safety and security of these facilities. The details of the standard will be defined through the review process but are expected to include: A global and transparent consequence-based tailings facility classification system with appropriate requirements for each level of classification; a system for credible, independent reviews of tailings facilities; and, requirements for emergency planning and preparedness.

In welcoming the news, Church of England Pensions Board, director of ethics and engagement, Adam Matthews, said: “This is a welcome step in the right direction by ICMM. We are convening international investors in London on Monday who have supported the call for an international independent tailings safety system. At that meeting we look forward to discussing with ICCM and member companies how these proposals meet the requirements of local communities, workers and investors, so that we have the assurances we need that best practice is being implemented globally.

“Investors are committed to working with companies in shaping the full response needed following the tragic events in Brumadinho, Brazil. We know there is good practice in the sector and the key will be to ensuring this is the new norm. ”

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