Tailings and Waste Management
Tailings and Waste Management
Why are tailings and waste management important?
Mining operations generate waste that can be in the form of waste rock, processed ore, tailings or sludges. Management of tailings facilities is a global priority for the mining industry, governments, and communities. If not managed properly, this waste can negatively impact the environment and human health in neighbouring communities. Mining processes also generate hazardous and non-hazardous waste, such as solvents and scrap metal. Pan American Silver works hard to ensure stable and long-term management of tailings and other mining wastes, as well as proper waste management and disposal. Both are essential to maintaining community and environmental health, as well as social acceptance.
|Material Topic||Tailings and waste management|
|Sub-Topic||Solid waste management|
Tailings facility management
|Definition||Managing tailings facilities and waste disposal|
|Feedback From COIs||Governments, communities, investors and other COIs want to be sure that our tailings facilities are safe.|
|How We’re Responding||We developed a Tailings, Water Dam, and Heap Leach Facilities Corporate Environmental Standard and commenced site-level implementation. |
We completed independent tailings storage facility safety reviews at Morococha and Manantial Espejo.
Potential risks and impacts
- Tailings, waste stockpile, or heap leach facility failure resulting in impacts on human and ecosystem health, property and community livelihoods
- Spills, acid drainage, or metal leaching resulting in water and soil contamination
We have systems in place for the safe management of our tailings facilities, water storage dams and heap leach pads. We actively seek to reduce our hazardous and non-hazardous waste generation by implementing management plans and procedures at each site.
External Best Practices
- Mining Association of Canada Tailings Working Group – We participate in this working group, which is responsible for developing best practice industry guidance. In 2018, major updates were completed to the TSM Tailings Management Protocol, Tailings Guide, and Operation, Maintenance and Surveillance Guide.
- Canadian Dam Association’s Dam Safety Guidelines – We use the guidelines to conduct risk assessments of our facilities.
Programs and Initiatives
- Independent tailings storage facilities safety review – We are conducting safety reviews in order of priority based on a facility risk assessment.
- TSM Tailings Management Protocol – We are implementing the protocol at all of our operations, which will be completed within the year.
- Tailings, Water, and Heap Leach Facilities Corporate Environmental Standard – This standard aligns with the Canadian Dam Safety Guidelines and TSM Tailings Management Protocol and provides best practice guidance for our sites.
- Predictive modeling – We complete predictive models based on geochemical data and studies for acid drainage and metal leaching prior to mining and update those studies through regular monitoring during operation and closure.
- Waste management plans – All our mines have site-specific management plans for hazardous and non-hazardous waste, which include actions to maximize reuse and recycling opportunities.
- Geotechnical and environmental monitoring – We conduct regular monitoring at our tailings, water, and heap leach facilities.
- Water and soil quality monitoring – We monitor downstream water and soil quality at all operations to ensure compliance with predictive models and water quality regulations.
- Waste monitoring – We have systems in place to monitor waste generation and disposal at all operations.
Tailings Facilities Management
Tailings are the by-products of processing and extracting metals from ore. During 2018, Pan American Silver managed six operating tailings facilities and one water storage dam. Our objective is to minimize potential harm and ensure that our facilities and systems are safe and operating in accordance with Canadian Dam Safety Guidelines and the TSM Tailings Protocol.
In 2018 we completed a new Corporate Environmental Standard on Tailings, Water, and Heap Leach Facilities, which is aligned with the Canadian Dam Safety Guidelines and TSM Tailings Protocol. The standard is being implemented at all sites.
We conducted a risk assessment of our tailings facilities in 2014 and designed a corresponding program of independent facility safety reviews. We have completed independent reviews at all our tailings and water facilities except La Colorada, which will be completed in 2019. Independent reviews will continue on a five-year basis, depending on the facility risk profile. We also have a closed dry-stack tailings facility at our recently-closed Alamo Dorado mine. We will conduct an independent review of that facility when closure work is completed.
Following extensive field evaluations and design efforts with an independent geotechnical engineering firm, in 2018 we completed the first phase of construction of our long-term La Colorada sulfide tailings facility expansion project. The innovative design provides a high degree of confidence in the stability of tailings deposition, while minimizing the long-term environmental footprint of the facility.
|Mine||Type of Tailings Facility||Independent Facility Safety Reviews|
|Dolores||1 operating water storage dam and heap leach pads||2017|
|La Colorada||2 operating tailings facilities; 3 small closed historic tailings deposits||Planned for 2019|
|Huaron||1 tailings facility; 3 small closed historic tailings deposits||2014 and 2015|
|Morococha||1 operating subaqueous tailings facility||2018|
|San Vicente||1 operating tailings facility||2017|
|Manantial Espejo||1 operating tailings facility||2017|
Our operations generate small quantities of hazardous and non-hazardous materials, which require end-of-life recycling or disposal. When possible, we recycle or reuse these products at our operations. For example, used oil can become a heating fuel. For other waste, we follow local regulations in disposing of these materials either on site or at local certified disposal facilities.
Non-hazardous waste: tires, scrap metal, domestic waste, wood waste
Hazardous waste: used oil, solvents, batteries, reagent packaging, fluorescent lightbulbs
In 2018, our waste management plans and worker training programs were successful in reducing our overall waste generation and increasing reuse and recycling. The plant demolition and scrapping of the process facility at Alamo Dorado created a large increase in the reuse and recycling of inert waste.
In Peru, our Morococha mine signed a series of recycling agreements with local social welfare NGOs in Lima where they coordinate the sale of our recyclable materials. Our Huaron mine is working on similar agreements.
Types of Waste and Disposal Methods
|Hazardous or dangerous waste||999||1,023||1,422|
|Non-hazardous inert waste||925||1,288||1,360|
|Domestic waste to landfill||1,712||1,169||1,212|
- Continue site-level implementation of our Tailings, Water, and Heap Leach Facilities Corporate Environmental Standard and the TSM Tailings Management Protocol.
- Complete the independent tailings storage facility safety review at La Colorada.
- Develop a Corporate Environmental Standard for hazardous and non-hazardous waste management.
306-2 Waste by type and disposal method
306-3 Significant spills
MM3 Total amounts of over burden, rock, tailings, and sludges