2022 – Risk and conformance-based tailings management: Two-sides of the same coin

Ryan Singh -HATS Consulting, Jarrad Coffey – Rio Tinto , Jiri Herza – HATS Consulting

The contemporary management of tailings facilities requires understanding and appreciation of the risk presented by the facilities, which presents a step-change from the typically used and well-understood conformance-based management approach that focusses with conforming with, and addressing deviations from, prescribed standards or requirements. The lack of appropriate risk assessment frameworks and limited experience with the processes of risk assessment have been observed to present the most significant impediment to the effective use of riskinformed management. As a result, there is still the need to utilise and leverage conformance-based reviews and management of tailings facilities. While the use of conformance-based management may not fully align with the industry’s changing concept of “best-practice”, it still provides value and will most likely feature as a part of management framework. Thus, it is imperative that the industry learns to utilise risk and conformance-based management tools in tandem to maximise the value of both. This paper explores the concepts and fundamental elements of risk and conformance-based management systems and how they can be synthesised to increase the value of both. This paper also presents the process and outcomes of several recent Rio Tinto Iron Ore initiatives, a Tailings Stewardship Board (conformance review), Portfolio Risk Assessment, Dam Safety Review and GISTM gap assessment and how the outcomes have been utilised by Rio Tinto Iron Ore to holistically manage their tailings facilities.

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