Environmental guidelines for the management of small tailings storage facilities


1. Summary

Regulatory requirements for the management of all tailings storage facilities (TSFs) in Victoria are set out in the Environmental Guidelines – Management of Tailings Storage Facilities 2004, published by the Earth Resources Regulation unit and referred to in this document as MTSF 2004.

Subordinate to MTSF 2004, this document has been produced to provide a simplified guide for operators of small tailings storage facilities in the extractive and mining industries.

The guideline is aimed at small operations that produce benign or low level contaminated tailings such as waste streams from sand washing processes. Regulatory requirements for these operations are generally less extensive than for those producing contaminated tailings, such as waste streams from cyanide processing of ore, or a large TSF.

The guideline covers both existing sites and new proposals, but may apply differently to each site depending on its specific issues.

Common to all sites is the need to:

  • Continuously minimise wastes
  • Assess safety and environmental risks presented by TSFs
  • Manage these appropriately to ensure that TSFs are safe, both during operation and after closure, and that environment impacts are minimised
  • Design new TSFs to reduce risks to acceptable limits
  • Ensure that TSFs are appropriately rehabilitated after closure to minimise longterm risks to the environment, social impacts, future land use and visual amenity.

To ensure each site meets it obligations with respect to this guideline, consultation with the department may be required.

To obtain approvals and comply with regulatory requirements operators of TSF must provide the department with appropriate, up to date documentation.

This includes:

  • A work plan accurately describing all the aspects of the operation
  • An emergency response plan
  • An operations manual
  • Safety and environment monitoring, auditing and reporting (where specifically required)
  • Incident and accident reporting, as required.

2. Background

TSFs are regulated by Earth Resources Regulation (ERR) unit, which sits within the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (the department) under the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990 (MRSDA). Policies and requirements for the management of tailings are set out in MTSF 2004.

While every effort has been made to ensure this guideline accurately reflects the requirements of MTSF 2004, where inconsistencies exist, the MTSF 2004 will prevail.

Although requirements for TSFs are administered by the department, any discharges outside a mine or quarry site boundary are also subject to the Environment Protection Act 1970, administered by the Environment Protection Authority.

3. Application of the guidelines

Tailings are a waste stream from mining and extractive industries, commonly described as fine-grained residues from processes such as ore crushing, upgrading, washing or chemical reactions.

TSFs are areas used to confine tailings and include the dam or other structure, as well as the associated infrastructure. The term refers to the overall facility, and may include one or more tailings (or water) dams.

This guideline applies to the management of small TSFs containing or predicted to contain benign or low level contaminated tailings. The following sections explain which TSFs are categorised as small and storing benign or low level contaminated content.

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Small TSFs are those which fit the criteria (S) below, where S = Small and L= Large:

Embankment height (m) Capacity (ML)
<10 L S S
10–15 L L S
>15 L L L

The height of the embankment is determined from Sits maximum height above the natural surface.

Tailings are only classified as BLLC tailings if they do not exceed, or are not predicted to exceed, the level of contaminants as specified in the definition of contaminated tailings in Appendix I.

All TSFs storing, or predicted to store, contaminated tailings as specified in the definition of contaminated tailings in Appendix I must meet the requirements set out in the MTSF 2004, regardless of size or capacity.

4. Format of the guidelines

Reference to small TSFs throughout the remainder of this document refers to TSFs that meet the criteria described in section 3.

The guideline is divided into two parts.

Part A outlines general departmental requirements for the following aspects of TSF management:

  • Approvals: Planning approval, work plans and consultation
  • Waste minimisation
  • Risk assessment

Part B outlines appropriate minimum standards for the following components of TSF management:

  • Design
  • Construction
  • Operation
    • Incident and accident notification and reporting
    • Emergency response plan
    • Operations manual
    • Monitoring, auditing and reporting on safety and environmental monitoring
  • Decommission and rehabilitation

Part A: General departmental requirements

5. Approvals

Whether an operator is applying for a new TSF, a variation to an existing facility or adding an additional TSF to an existing site, a number of approvals are required.

Variations that will require approval include adding a lift to or the extension of an existing tailings dam. The granting of approvals will also depend on the history, performance and records for existing sites.

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A work plan must be lodged and approved before construction or operation of a TSF can commence. Where a proposal includes an additional, extended or changed TSF (such as the addition of a lift to a pre-existing TSF) on an existing site, the operators must submit an appropriate work plan variation.

Often the TSF proposal will be part of a larger mining or quarrying proposal. Work plans incorporating a proposal for a TSF should address aspects such as:

  • The TSF design plan
  • Details about the proposed management of the tailings and water
  • Plans for the minimisation of impacts on native vegetation
  • Plans for environmental monitoring and for managing rehabilitation, risks and emergencies
  • Plans for the intended end-use of the TSF site.

A description of work plan requirements is provided in Appendix II.

The operator of a TSF may need to apply to the responsible authority (usually the local municipality) for planning approval under the Planning and Environment Act 1987.

Where a proposed TSF represents a minor variation to a pre-existing operation, the operator should confirm with the responsible authority whether further planning approval is required.

The operator must undertake consultation with the community and interested stakeholders in accordance with the site's community engagement plan.

This is particularly important where a proposed TSF represents a major change. Consultation enables the exchange of information, views about a project, the potential hazards and approaches to address them.

Consultation before and during the design and operation of the TSF should be part of the broader consultative process associated with the mining or extractive venture.

6. Waste minimisation

Before proposing a new TSF or a variation to an existing TSF, an operator should have considered all alternatives to generating the tailings (both form and volume).

Opportunities for minimising the volume of tailings and reusing them should be considered. Waste may be directed to other uses such as packing sand, backfill, as feedstock for further processing of concrete and in shot-crete production.

Opportunities for water conservation and reuse should also be explored early in a project's development. Continuous review of opportunities for waste minimisation over the life cycle of the mine or extractive site will contribute to the best possible outcomes for the operator.

The department may request further analysis where it is considered necessary to protect the environment or reduce risks to the community.

7. Risk management

Even small TSFs have the potential to cause detrimental impacts. For instance, failure or overtopping of a TSF embankment, and the subsequent release of tailings downstream, has the potential to cause damage to property as well as environmental damage, such as erosion of waterways or loss of flora and fauna.

The possibility of a detrimental impact occurring as a consequence of the operation of a TSF is referred to as 'Risk'.

Risk management of TSFs is about eliminating, or minimising the safety, health, environmental and financial risks associated with the transportation and storage of tailings. This involves using an organised approach to identifying risks, treating the risks by designing and implementing control or mitigation measures, and monitoring the effectiveness of these treatments.

Risk assessment is the process of identifying risks. While the department would not usually require a formal risk assessment for a small TSF, operators of small TSFs should adhere to risk management principles and ensure that risk is reduced to acceptable levels throughout all stages of the TSF operation.

Operators should use a risk management approach in the development of work plans. Work plans should demonstrate that risks associated with the TSF operation have been eliminated or minimised through good design.

Operators of pre-existing TSF should be able to show that a risk management approach has also been used in the development of:

  • The operations manual
  • Emergency response plans
  • The monitoring programs for both the environment and safety, as outlined in section 10.

Under some circumstances, the department may determine that a formalised risk assessment process is required for either a proposed or pre-existing small TSF.

The risk assessment process should be structured to fit the size and complexity of the operation and should include:

  • A systematic identification of hazards
  • Estimates of likelihood (the chance that a hazard will occur)
  • Assessments of consequences (what will happen if the hazard is realised)
  • Identification of treatments (mitigation measures with operational procedures)
  • Design of monitoring and review programs.

A simplified example of a risk assessment table can be found in Appendix III. Further information about risk management can be found in MTSF 2004.

Part B: Design, construction, operation and decommissioning standards

8. Design

The objectives of good TSF design include a balance between reducing risks and achieving the desired utility. In designing a TSF, the entire life cycle of the facility must be considered, from construction through to closure.

The design of a TSF is tailored to the particular site, nature and treatment of the materials it must contain and desired landform after closure.

Key design objectives are:

  1. Optimal siting
  2. Safe and stable containment of tailings
  3. Water management including decant and rainfall run-off
  4. Seepage minimisation and containment; and
  5. A planned system for effective closure.
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Site selection requires analysis of competing factors, such as the environment, local planning, social and cultural issues and landscape values that may be subject to regulation.

The operator proposing a TSF should identify and investigate all reasonable potential alternative sites and undertake realistic assessments of comparative risks.

A number of factors may influence selection related to the site itself, such as the:

  • Downstream characteristics
  • Flood or seismic activity
  • Foundation conditions
  • Availability of construction and rehabilitation materials
  • Rehabilitation materials
  • Depth to groundwater.

A catchment is a drainage basin (also known as a watershed). It describes a region of land where water from rain or snowmelt drains downhill into a body of water, such as a river, lake, estuary, wetland, sea or ocean or in this case, a tailings storage facility.

TSFs should be located and designed to have the smallest catchment possible. Matters that will be considered in assessing the TSF proposal include:

  • The area and nature of the catchment
  • Peak flows from storms and wet seasons
  • The long-term stability of structures (such as stream diversions)
  • Location of domestic water supplies
  • Effects of drainage on downstream flow regimes (particularly flooding).

It is our policy that a proposal for a TSF with a significant external catchment will not be approved unless the operator can demonstrate that no better, practical alternative exists and that the environmental risks are adequately addressed.

Operators of such TSFs must meet the water management criteria described in the MTSF 2004 for large TSF, including capacity, freeboard and emergency spillways, in addition to the criteria described in these guidelines.

Water management is critical to the safety of a TSF.

Small TSFs without external catchment must:

  • Be of sufficient size to contain waste inputs and rainwater during a one-in-ten year wet year
  • Still retain a minimum one metre freeboard.

Alternatively, where an operator decides to undertake a detailed water balance that meets the water design criteria specified in MTSF 2004, a smaller freeboard may be approved.

Where diversion of clean runoff water around a TSF is required, works should be carefully designed to prevent downstream impacts such as erosion or siltation.

Design of diversion works should be based on site-specific hydrological data.

For small TSFs, appropriate design criteria for the safe and stable design of TSF and their embankments can be found in the guide to managing the safety of farm dams provided by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).

This document is called Your dam: Your responsibility – A guide to managing the safety of small dams (PDF, 1.9MB).

Operators should demonstrate that the most appropriate method for managing the tailings has been selected.

Alternatives to wet storage systems are encouraged. This is particularly important if the nature of the tailings may compromise final rehabilitation of the TSF (such as slimes that will not dry successfully).

A small TSF usually involves constructing the embankment to its final height at the outset. Any future lifts must be specified (type and number) at the time of initial design.

TSFs must be designed to ensure that the potential use of groundwater and surface water are not compromised and to prevent undesirable impacts such as waterlogging and land salinisation.

The department may require more details of TSF construction in cases where these impacts are considered likely.

The department may also require a TSF to be lined in some circumstances.

The work plan should describe the method of closure and the source of the cover material.

TSFs require large quantities of cover material for closure and will benefit from a preliminary assessment of the geochemistry of tailings and identification of constituents with the potential to have an environmental impact.

The type and depth of cover are also influenced by the desired revegetation outcomes and future land use of the closed TSF.

9. Construction

It is essential that construction of a TSF accords with the approved design and is carried out to a high standard of workmanship. Adequate supervision of the works is essential to ensure relevant factors are addressed.

Advice about the construction of small dams is provided in the DELWP publication: Your dam: Your responsibility – A guide to managing the safety of small dams (PDF, 1.9MB).

10. Operation

Well planned operational practices can reduce the long term cost and minimise the risks to the environment.

To this end, the work plan should describes all aspects of the proposed operation of the TSF and demonstrate a well planned and systematic approach to the deposition of tailings, water and chemicals in the facility.

All sites must have appropriate supporting documents and processes that ensure sound management of the TSF.

These include:

  • An operations manual
  • Incident reporting
  • Emergency response planning
  • Environmental and safety monitoring, reporting and auditing.
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All TSFs require an operations manual.

This provides the basis for ensuring that the work plan objectives are converted into appropriate on-site actions and that all personnel are informed of standard procedures, processes and performance measures that form part of their roles and responsibilities.

The size and complexity of the document will depend on the TSF and the site.

Aspects typically covered in an operations manual include:

  • Roles and responsibilities by position
  • Method for tailings conveyance and deposition
  • Water management and maintenance of freeboard
  • Inspection and maintenance schedules
  • Dam safety and environmental monitoring
  • Record keeping
  • Reporting requirements
  • Any additional requirements specified by the designer/department.

Personnel must have a detailed understanding of the operations manual's relevance to their day-to-day functions and responsibilities.

The operations manual must be continuously updated to reflect changes in site conditions or operations.

Tailings and decant waters are often pumped and conveyed by pipeline. This arrangement involves the risk of accidental discharge through a broken pipeline join or faulty control devices.

Measures to prevent accidental discharge of tailings must be in place. Procedures for pipeline inspections must be clearly outlined in the operations manual.

Other preventative measures to enable spillage to be directed to dedicated catch dams or to reduce the chance of liquid escaping under pressure include:

  • Placing pipelines in trenches or between parallel bunds;
  • Completely encasing the pipeline in a secondary sleeve or
  • Constructing covers over pipe joints.

Appropriate maintenance and replacement schedules for mechanical equipment are necessary for safe operation.

Written records of inspection and maintenance of tailings pipelines and other tailings distribution equipment must be maintained and made available for review by the department upon request.

The operator should be able to demonstrate that the measures proposed and implemented reduce risks to an acceptable level.

Incidents, accidents and near misses associated with the management of tailings and tailings storage facilities must be reported to the department immediately or at the earliest practical time after control and mitigation.

Incidents related to a small TSF may include:

  • Injury or death of personnel
  • Injury or death of fauna on or near the TSF
  • Uncontrolled release of tailings or supernatant water
  • Major, unplanned, seepage impact on vegetation or groundwater accession
  • Defects in the structure through cracking, slumping or erosion.

The consequences of a TSF failure may be serious. Part of the documentation required for approval of any TSF is an Emergency Response Plan (ERP).

The ERP should be prepared on the basis of a worst-case scenario relative to the size of the TSF and the nature of its contents.

A comprehensive discussion of this issue can be found in the DELWP publication Your dam: Your responsibility – A guide to managing the safety of small dams (PDF, 1.9MB) as well as the MTSF 2004.

Implementation of a plan could make a significant difference to the outcome of an incident. An Emergency Response Plan (ERP) should be prepared with scope and content related directly to the size and the identified hazards of the particular TSF, supporting the ERP for the overall mining or extractive operation.

The proforma TSF emergency response plan as set out in Appendix IV may be appropriate for many small TSFs.

The approved ERP should be kept in a prominent, accessible location known to all staff and emergency services. The ERP should also remain close to the operation centre of the mining or extractive operation for use in the case of an emergency.

A copy should be forwarded to each of the emergency services likely to attend the facility.

Monitoring and auditing are essential management tools for the operation of a TSF.

The work plan must include site-specific safety and environmental monitoring, auditing and reporting programs. The programs should be suitable for the nature and scale of the operation.

The operations manual should specify how the programs are to be implemented.

10.5.1 Safety monitoring

The aim of routine monitoring of a TSF is to provide early warning of danger so that timely maintenance can be carried out and failure avoided. Features to consider in a safety monitoring program may include:


  • Seepage, leakage, cracking, slips, movement or deformation
  • Erosion
  • Piezometric levels (knowing the phreatic surface location will assist).


  • Level (minimum 1 metre freeboard)
  • Location (pond against embankment may pose problems).


  • Defects or obstruction in infrastructure (outlet pipes, spillway, decant system)
  • Obstruction or erosion of diversion drains.

The guide Your dam: Your responsibility – A guide to managing the safety of small dams (PDF, 1.9MB) provides useful information on safety surveillance of small dams.

10.5.2 Environmental monitoring

Environmental monitoring requirements will depend on the type of tailings and risks involved.

For mining operations, this information should fulfil the reporting requirements of the Mineral Resources Development Regulations 2002 and of the work plan.

Environmental aspects to monitor may include:

  • Impacts on surface and ground water
  • Impacts on flora and fauna, including aquatic ecosystems
  • Generation of dust, noise or odour
  • Spray drift effects on adjacent vegetation (method impacts on dust/evaporation).
10.5.3 Monitoring of transfers for mining TSF

Monitoring of transfers to and from a mining TSF is required under Schedule 15 of the Mineral Resources Development Regulations 2002.

Further information on this is provided in MTSF 2004.

10.5.4 Auditing and reporting

Regular audits enable maintenance of and improvement to essential systems and procedures.

Audits also provide valuable comparisons of actual performance against the design parameters, expectations or assumptions in the work plan.

Records provide an ongoing history of the facility that is vital on sites with high personnel turnover. Any audit and review should be tailored to the size and nature of the TSF.

More information on audit and review reports for a TSF may be found in the MTSF 2004.

11. Decommissioning overview

Tailings material must be securely stored for an indefinite period and present no hazard to public health, safety or the environment.

Closure and rehabilitation works must be inherently stable as well as resisting degradation. The design should minimise maintenance requirements from commissioning through closure.

Plans for closure must be included in the initial work plan and appropriate to the nature of the tailings content, final landform plus landowner expectations.

Final landform design must be compatible with the:

  • Surrounding landscape
  • Form of containment or encapsulation used
  • Nature of the embankment materials
  • Needs of the landowner and the community
  • Any legal requirements
  • Local climate/topography
  • Level of management available after reclamation.

The content of the tailings, the process by which they were deposited and the design for water recovery can significantly influence the costs and risks associated with closure.

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Early planning for closure can reduce risks to the environment and the operator, while minimising costs at the end of the project's life.

Most TSFs require large quantities of cover material and an operator must demonstrate a well planned closure, including sources for cover material in the initial work plan development.

While the diversity in materials and objectives make it impractical to prescribe designs for TSF covers, operators should demonstrate that a proposed cover is suitable for the nature of the contained tailings and the post mining or quarrying land use.

Proposed cover designs will be assessed as part of the work plan approval process.

The characteristics of the particular tailings and the topographic, hydrogeological, geotechnical and climatic characteristics of the disposal site usually determine the appropriate cover design.

Covers range from complex multilayers of earth and rock to those where only a relatively thin growing medium is required on the surface.

Designed for the long term, all TSF covers will require maintenance. TSFs on private land are normally subject to the requirements of the landowner agreement, which should take into account the long-term maintenance issues such as future land use and potential for erosion.

Monitoring of a decommissioned TSF should continue through formal closure and until resumption of management by the landowner. Post-closure monitoring may include:

  • Revegetation performance
  • Flood mitigation and drainage control
  • Seepage
  • Erosion control
  • Control of pest plants and animals (include wild or plantation trees).

The monitoring must demonstrate that:

  • Structures are geotechnically stable
  • Covers are not eroding
  • Risk of an uncontrolled release of tailings is very low
  • Plant growth has been successful in meeting planned outcomes
  • After several growing seasons, a self-sustaining vegetation community has developed.

Facilities on private land will normally be subject to the requirements of a landowner agreement. Landowners will need to account for the long-term maintenance costs when considering such agreements.

In addition, provisions of the MR(SD) Act make compensation payable to the Crown for losses associated with the use of Crown land for mining.

In either case, operators should make provision for the long-term costs associated with up-keep and maintenance.

12. Contacts for further information

For further Information, please contact us.


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Contaminated tailings –

  1. tailings solids with contaminant concentrations (or predicted concentrations) above any of the levels specified in table 1, and/or sulphidic tailings with the potential to cause acid generation; and/or
  2. tailings liquor (or predicted tailings liquor) with a total cyanide concentration exceeding 1 mg/l or a pH outside the range 5 to 9.

Tailings with these characteristics require higher standards of TSF design, construction and management.

Table 1: Maximum contaminant concentrations and elutriable fractions allowed in soil to be disposed of as contaminated soils (low level), based on EPA Victoria's classification of contaminated soils (EPA, 2004)

Contaminant Maximum
(total) mg/kg dry
Elutriable Fraction
(pH 5.0 extract) g/m3
Arsenic 300 5.0
Cadmium 50 0.5
Chromium 2500 5.0
Copper 1000 10
Cobalt 500
Lead 3000 5.0
Mercury 1 2 0.1
Molybdenum 400
Nickel 1000
Tin 500
Selenium 100 1.0
Zinc 5000 50
Cyanide 500 10
Fluoride 4500 150
Phenols 10
Monocyclic Aromatic
Polycyclic Aromatic
Total Petroleum
Hydrocarbons (C6 to C9)
Total Petroleum
Hydrocarbons (>C9)
Organochlorine Compounds 10

Note 1: Level of Mercury is based on the Victorian Department of Energy and Minerals Use of Mercury in the Gold Mining Industry (1994).

The following lists detailed information required by the department in relation to proposals for construction, operation and closure of small TSFs meeting the BLLC criteria outlined in section 3 this guideline.

These are additional to the basic requirements set out in the Mineral Resources Development Regulations 2002 or the Extractive Industry Development Regulations 1996.


  • Feneral description of method of raw material processing and tailings storage
  • Brief summary of the proposal, including commencement and expected closure dates, the relationship with any existing (if relevant) or proposed operation
  • Location map with AMG coordinates.

Environmental features of the site

  • Geology of the area to be covered by the TSF (especially any features that might affect the water-tightness of the TSF)
  • Topography of the site and immediate surrounding area, particularly to indicate the nature and extent of catchment and surface drainage pattern (the size of catchment should be the smallest practical)
  • Details of any watercourses or water supply dams likely to be affected in the event of an accidental discharge from the site
  • The potential for flooding
  • Sources of materials for construction of the embankment, liners and closure (if the borrow pits are located outside the area subject to the mining licence, an extractive licence may be required under the Extractive Industry Development Act 1995)
  • Location, extent and conservation status of any known potentially affected natural values (extant native vegetation, wetlands, groundwater, etc)
  • Where removal of native vegetation is proposed an assessment in accordance with Victoria's Native Vegetation Management: A Framework for Action 2002
  • Location or indications of any known rare or endangered flora or fauna at or near the site.

Cultural features of the site

  • Location and nature of cultural features (Aboriginal, historic, recreational or landscape).

Tailings deposition methodology and waste minimisation

  • Consideration of the principles of Waste Minimisation (Section 4)
  • Source of the tailings including approximate process throughput rate (dry tonnes/year)
  • Details of the chemical properties of the tailings, reagents, process and return waters and residual process chemicals.

Risk assessment

  • Evaluation of the location of the TSF
  • Identification of significant hazards to the environment, the community and infrastructure
  • Identification of appropriate design features or actions required to eliminate or reduce risks to an acceptable level
  • Identification of matters to be addressed in the emergency response plan.

TSF design

  • Design parameters used (these may derive from approved small dam design manuals)
  • Plan of the TSF site itself showing details and total area of structure, working area and ultimate tailings capacity (volume to include allowance for non-recovered water content)
  • Erosion control measures for the embankment and toe.

TSF design for water management

  • For TSFs with external catchments:
    • Determination of appropriate extreme rainfall events (see Section and Appendix VII of MTSF 2004)
    • Analysis of the runoff into the TSF catchment for rainfall both on the storage itself and on the surrounding catchment (if applicable).
  • Design, location and operation of discharge and return pipelines
  • Design, location and materials of diversion drains.


  • A program for monitoring, auditing and reporting safety, operational and environmental factors appropriate to the nature and scale of the operation as required by Section 17 of the guidelines.

Incident management

  • Plans for recording and reporting all accidents, incidents and emergencies affecting health or safety of personnel, fauna, surface and ground water, vegetation, infrastructure (Section 10 of the guidelines).

Closure and rehabilitation

  • Information on how closure is to be achieved in accordance with Section 10
  • Details on erosion management
  • Revegetation program.

Risk register (four sample entries)

Element Identification of hazard Assessment of hazard's consequences and likelihood Development and documentation of controls Review and revision
Design Miscalculation of catchment size (external) Consequences -catastrophic Likelihood -Probable (to embankment stability, seepage control and dam capacity) Use DELWP Guidelines: Your dam, your responsibility or Consult specialist engineer Biannually monitoring: climate conditions upstream activities Daily monitoring: TSF capacity tailings deposit volume
Embankment Overtopping due to 1 in 100 year ARI rain event Consequences -severe Likelihood -unlikely (for downstream plant and equipment as well as other beneficial uses) Maintain one (1) metre freeboard above "pond-full" level at all times and monitor dam wall integrity weekly Update as required based on experience and current climate data
Embankment Overtopping due to 1 in 10 year ARI rain event Consequences -moderate Likelihood -probable (for downstream plant and equipment) Calculate site water balance using ANCOLD guidelines and maintain recommended pond level as well as monitoring dam wall integrity weekly Update as required based on experience overtime and current climate data
Upstream Diversion Banks and Channels Partial or total failure to divert run-off due to extreme rainfall event Consequences -severe likelihood -probable (for downstream plant and equipment and any further operation due to low storage capacity) Upgrade upstream diversion banks and channels and/or apply for variation to increase TSF capacity and stability Monitor climate change impacts and take action accordingly

The following procedures should be followed by the operator of a small tailings storage facility in the case of a major event or incident occurring at the facility.

Procedures for larger facilities could follow this format but should be more detailed.

Emergency events

  • high rainfall
  • storm
  • earthquake

Emergency incidents

Overtopping, wave damage, cracking, slips, structural failure, slides, slumping, increased or new seepage, piping, pipeline leakage or other abnormal signs or behaviour.

Priority of action

  1. saving life
  2. protecting highly significant environmental values
  3. saving property
  4. dam structure damage control

Failure to apply due diligence under circumstances that could result in injury or damage to public or private property may constitute a liability against the TSF operator.

  1. Be alert to potential developments and maintain close vigilance during extreme events or perceived abnormal behaviour of the TSF
  2. Maintain safety requirements at all times during response actions
  3. Take actions as outlined

Proforma small TSF ERP emergency response contacts

Having made initial contact, the TSF operator shall make arrangements to maintain continuous contact and provide timely advice on changes of conditions.

Tailings storage facilities emergency processes

Structural failure

When an inspection dectects any emergency incidents that give signs that the dam may fail the emergycy process must be started. If there is possible uncontrolled release of tailings, contact the emergency response contacts and record the events and initiate damage control is necessary.

High rainfall or storm event

Monitor weather, wave and filling rate and inspect for damage. If there is structural damage or overflow immediately contact the emergency response contacts and initiate damage control is necessary.

Earthquake event

After and earthquake event immediately inspect tailing storage facility. If damage looks likely to occur maintain visual monitoring. If there is spillage or major adamage immediately contact the emergency response contacts and record the events and initiate damage control if safe to do so.

Note: If the initial inspection was at night, follow-up inspections should be carried out in daylight.

Pipeline failure

When an inspection dectects pipline failure and tailings release; shut doen the tailing pipline and evalute the damage. If there is damage immediately contact the emergency response contacts and record the events and initiate damage control if safe to do so.

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Page last updated: 01 Dec 2021