MAC updates guidance for tailings management

The Mining Association of Canada (MAC) in April released updates to its Toward Sustainable Mining (TSM) standards to align with global outlines for tailings management.

Through TSM, the group examined eight critical aspects of social and environmental performance, which were then evaluated, independently validated and publicly reported against 39 performance indicators.

With the changes, TSM – its standard which was first launched in 2004 – will meet or exceed most requirements in Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management.

That includes providing more detailed and rigorous performance measurement expectations, MAC said.

“For example, the [global] Standard has three high-level requirements related to developing and implementing an operation, maintenance and surveillance (OMS) manual for tailings facilities, whereas TSM identifies more than 120 items that must be addressed to be in conformance with the TSM requirement to develop and implement an OMS manual.”

The group said TSM standards will now also take a more comprehensive look at human and community rights and benefits. Finally, it will have an established, independent verification process.

MAC said that TSM was the world’s first mining sustainability standard that required site-level reviews, which remain mandatory for all companies that are members of implementing associations. It has provided the country’s industry with an established system for credible performance measurement and reporting.

Effective tailings management is rightly being prioritized more than ever, the group’s officials said.

“The publication of the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management (the Standard) last year provided a good opportunity to review TSM’s requirements, with a view to incorporating aspects of it that would further enhance the safe management of tailings facilities around the world,” explained Pierre Gratton, MAC president & CEO.

“What we found was broad alignment in most critical aspects, plus some opportunities to further strengthen our guidance and TSM requirements. We also found that, in many respects, TSM is more detailed and rigorous than the Standard and is a surer guarantee of the safe management of tailings facilities.”

The details of updates made to MAC’s TSM tailings requirements can be found at A detailed comparison versus the global standards is available at

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