A new global standard on tailings dams aim to prevent mining disasters like the Brazil dam collapse in 2019 – but there's more to do.
Small-scale gold mining operations in developing countries are major sources of toxic mercury pollution, using techniques that haven't changed much since the California Gold Rush 150 years ago.
Dams built to hold enormous quantities of toxic mining waste have a long history of spills. Decisions in the Pacific Northwest threaten three free-flowing rivers there.
One of the most interesting developments to emerge from the disaster in Brazil is how investors can work together with mining companies and regulatory bodies to improve tailings management systems.
Nearly 1,800 Brazilian dams are at risk of failure, according to the government. Fixing them is expensive – but ignoring aging dams can have considerable social, economic and environmental costs.
In countries like South Africa which has a big and robust mining sector, tailings need to be managed with extra care.
Identifying mine waste materials as economic resources will help support global demand for critical metals, boosting the mining industry during the downturn. All with environmental benefits.