The Mining Association of Canada (MAC) has released a revised edition of its A Guide to the Management of Tailings Facilities. The third edition includes significant updates, which strives for a standard of zero failure for mining infrastructure.

Following the tailings incident at Mount Polley, MAC struck an Independent Task Force to undertake an external review, which ultimately made 29 recommendations to strengthen MAC’s tailings management guidance and requirements under MAC’s sustainability standard, Towards Sustainable Mining, all of which are being systematically incorporated. A parallel internal review, spearheaded by tailings experts within MAC’s membership, was also conducted. This identified further opportunities, including those identified in the 2016 Golder report, to strengthen MAC’s tailings management components.

“The improvements made to the Tailings Guide build upon what we had already perceived as strong guidance within MAC’s TSM program when the Mount Polley Expert Panel I examined it as part of its work,” said Professor Emeritus Norbert Morgenstern, and chair of the Mount Polley Expert Panel. “For example, the new guide contains several important advances, including consideration of Best Available Technology and Best Available/Applicable Practices, and recognition of the need to broadly consult with Communities of Interest.”

At the end of October, the United Nations Environment Programme urged states and industry to end mining waste spills that resulted in loss of life or significant harm to the environment by adopting a zero-failure object. The third edition of the Tailings Guide moves towards thhis goal of minimizing harm by achieving zero catastrophic failures of tailings facilities and no significant adverse effects on the environment and human health. It contains new technical components, including those critical to the physical and chemical stability of tailings facilities. It also strengthens key management components throughout the tailings facility’s life cycle, such as change management, critical controls for risk management, and performance evaluation.

“This guide contains best practices in the safe operation, management and closure of tailings facilities, and can be applied by MAC members and non-members alike, anywhere in the world,” said Pierre Gratton, president and CEO, MAC. “We owe a debt of gratitude to the members of the Independent Task Force and MAC’s Tailings Working Group whose skill, dedication and enthusiasm resulted in significant improvements to our guide,”

To download a copy of the Tailings Guide (third edition), visit


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