BHP is committed to improving the transparency and availability of information about TSFs and is working with the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM). We support calls for greater transparency in tailings management disclosure and intend to continue to work with the industry and community, regulatory and financial stakeholders to promote the application of consistent disclosure that informs better tailings stewardship.
Classification of tailings storage facilities
Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management
We support and have contributed to the development of the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management (GISTM), which was established as an international standard for safer tailings management through a process co-convened with the ICMM, United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the Principles of Responsible Investing (PRI). The new international standard provides a framework for safer tailings management and an ambition to achieve the goal of zero harm to people and the environment, and we are taking a proactive approach to meeting all the requirements that have been set out in the GISTM. This includes meeting the GISTM timeframe for implementation as per our commitment as an ICMM member specifically within three years from 5 August 2020 for TSFs classified as having ‘extreme’ or ‘very high’ potential consequences of failure, and within five years from 5 August 2020 for all other remaining TSFs.
The delivery of the GISTM implementation plans was a priority in FY2022 and we made notable progress across our operated assets, which we tracked and reported to the Sustainability Committee. As part of our commitment to GISTM and continuous improvement in tailings management, we conducted a mid-implementation review that confirmed we are on track to achieve conformance in line with the ICMM timelines. We also implemented our Accountable Executive (AE) model, whereby AEs are direct reports of the BHP Chief Executive Officer and answerable to the Sustainability Committee as stipulated in the GISTM requirements.
BHP’s long-term tailings strategy is to achieve zero harm from tailings by FY2030. Key to achieving this vision is our commitment to the GISTM. Where there is an opportunity to increase the current tailings storage capacity or construct a new facility, BHP will investigate alternative tailings management solutions (non-conventional tailings solutions) to avoid or minimise potential risks, deliver a cost-effective solution and increase social value.
Our approach to the disclosure requirements of the GISTM is phased, starting with an update to our Church of England submission. In April 2019, the Church of England Pensions Board and the Council on Ethics Swedish National Pension Funds wrote to more than 700 mining companies to request specific disclosures in relation to their TSFs. Our updated disclosure for FY2022 is available in the ESG Standards and Databook. As we work towards conformance with the GISTM, we will publish and regularly update our information and commitment to safe TSF management on our website. We also commit to engage in credible global transparency initiatives related to TSF management.
We have published a Tailings Storage Facility Policy Statement which outlines our commitment to the safe management of TSFs, emergency preparedness and response, recovery in the unlikely event of failure, and transparency.
Transparency and independence are central to the GISTM, and the aim of developing a global industry standard brought together multiple stakeholders across a range of disciplines. We see collaboration as an important step forward for the safer management of TSFs and welcome ongoing dialogue with industry stakeholders towards the potential establishment of an independent entity to oversee the standard.