Investor Mining and Tailings Safety Initiative

Image of the first investor roundtable on mine tailings safety march 4th
Information on the Investor Mining and Tailings Safety Initiative. 

**Updated details of company disclosures (as of 8 Novemer 2019) are available below under "Responses to the Disclosure Request"**

Background:
The Investor Mining & Tailings Safety Initiative is an investor led engagement convening institutional investors active in extractive industries including major asset owners and asset managers.  Inputs into the investor process have been sought from communities impacted by the recent disaster, leading international experts, government representatives, leading international technical advisors as well as company representatives. 

The Investor Mining & Tailings Safety Initiative is governed through a Steering Committee Chaired by the Church of England Pensions Board and the Swedish Council of Ethics of the AP Funds. 

This has led to a number of interventions. The first was a call for a new independent and publicly accessible international standard for tailings dams based upon the consequences of failure. See press releases here, here and here. Investors have been pleased to see that in response to their call, a global review was announced and co-convened by the International Council of Mining and Metals (ICMM), the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The second intervention requesting detailed disclosure on tailings storage facilities is outlined below.  

Following the catastrophic tailings dam failure at the Córrego do Feijão mining facility in Brumadinho, Minas Gerias, Brazil, which led to the loss of over 245 lives, and 25 missing people (as of May 2019), a group of institutional investors (now representing more than $13 trillion assets under management) have written to 726 extractive companies seeking greater disclosure on the management of tailings storage facilities (“TSF”). 

Disclosure Request:

On the 5th April a letter was sent to the Board Chairs and Chief Executive Officers of listed extractive companies requesting specific disclosure on Tailings Storage Facilities.  A follow up letter was sent on 17th April. Given the urgency of the issue the disclosure is requested by 7th June 2019 and to be placed upon the company website, signed by the CEO or Board Chair. 

High Level Investor Roundtables

As part of the investor initiative four high level investor roundtables have been convened by the Church of England Pensions Board and Swedish Council of Ethics at Church House in London. These took place between March and June 2019. 

These roundtable events are intended to:

  • Provide a forum for input from locally affected communities.
  • Enable better understanding of the scale of social and financial risks associated with TSF failure.
  • Help identify the actions required to make best practices on TSF management a minimum standard including through input from TSF experts and industry leading companies.
  • Define the roles of investors, companies and other stakeholders in reducing the safety risks associated with TSF.

Global Tailings Summit

The Church of England Pensions Board and the Council on Ethics of the Swedish National Pension Funds convened a global tailings summit to review the progerss of the industry 9 months after the disaster at Brumadinho. 

This summit included: 

- Release of Phase 1 of a new project: the New Global Independent Tailings Database, including initial analysis. Slides available here. (Presented by Professor Elaine Baker, GRID Arendal and the University of Sydney)

- A review of progress being made in the development of a new Global Standard in Tailings Management (presented by Professor Bruno Oberle)

- A discussion of how risks around tailings dams appear in companies' Annual Report and Accounts. (presented by a working group of the Investor Initiative)

- A discussion on a set of expectations on tailings management across investor, banking, and insurance sectors. 

A press relesae on the event is available here

Further detail on the Investor disclosure request

There is currently no consolidated global public register of TFSs. It has been estimated that there are approximately 18,000 TFSs worldwide, of which approximately 3,500 are currently active. However, without a global register, the precise scale of the risks are not clear, nor is it clear which company has responsibility for which facilities.

As institutional investors in the mining industry and in the absence of such a register or common public reporting standards on TSFs, the Investor Mining & Tailings Safety Initiative is currently requesting data from 726 mining companies on each of their TSFs, as outlined in the letters (see here and here). 

Key features of the disclosure request

  • The Investor Mining & Tailings Safety Initiative requests the public disclosure of this information, certified by the Chairperson of the Board of Directors, and / or the Chief Executive Officer, on the company’s website by 7th June 2019, or as soon as possible thereafter.
  • Disclosure should include:
    • All tailings facilities where the company has any interest, through subsidiaries, partnerships, joint ventures both incorporated and unincorporated, and any other enterprises of whatever legal form.
    • All joint venture partners reporting on jointly owned facilities, even if the reporting company is not the operating partner (“NOJV’s”), should use the same facility name/identifier in the disclosure statement.
  • Companies should send confirmation of completed disclosure, along with relevant weblink and details of contact person for future correspondence to [email protected]
  • If respondents are unable to answer a question or do not have the requested information, please explain why this is the case and what action the company is taking to address this.
  • We strongly recommend that the disclosure is accompanied by plans to communicate directly with communities that may be affected by the company’s TSF footprint. 

 

Responses to the Disclosure Request:

727 publicly listed extractive companies were contacted (including Oil and Gas companies due to exposure to tailings from Tar Sands operations and Joint Ventures).

The number of companies contacted has increased from the number announced in April as, following discussions with investor partners, the Initiative has decided to reach out to an additional list of companies. This has inevitably led to a change in the % of recorded responses below.

As of 8th November 2019, 39 of the top 50 mining companies have made disclosures which has resulted in information about thousands of individual tailings dams/facilities being made public on company websites. Over 73% of the mining industry by market capitalisation have responded, and all 22 of 22 publicly owned companies that are members of the International Council on Mining & Metals (ICMM) responded and fully disclosed tailings dams/facilities. 

Of the 727 companies contacted the breakdown of responders were:

  • 316 responded (representing 43% of the companies contacted).
  • 179 confirmed they did not have tailings facilities (representing 25%).
  • 137 confirmed they did have tailings facilities.
  • 39 companies have not yet published their disclosure on a website or have asked for extra time to complete their disclosure.
  • 411 did not respond (representing 57%).

Breaking these figures down further for the mining sector only preliminary analysis indicates:

  • 39 out of the top 50 largest mining companies in the world responded.
  • 73% of the industry by market capitalisation responded.
  • 54.5% of the industry by market capitalisation fully and publicly disclosed.
  • 22 out of 22 publicly listed members of the International Council of Mining & Metals responded and publicly disclosed.

 

Press Release on Company Disclosures (17 June 2019)

Information on which companies have disclosed (8 November 2019)

NB The total number of companies contacted has increased since the inditial disclosure request was made on the 5th April 2019. If you represent a company with responsibility for Tailings Storage Facilities, but have not received our request, please contact emily.richards:churchofengland.org

Further Information and documents:

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions relating to this disclosure request at [email protected]

 

Letter to 683 companies (5th April 2019)

Second letter to companies (17th April 2019)

Disclosure questions 

Disclosure Template

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: We are not responsible for any tailings dams, nor are we linked to any via subsidiaries or joint ventures. Do we still need to make a disclosure on our website by 7th June 2019?  

A: Please confirm with us ([email protected]) that you have no Tailings Storage Facility exposure by 7th June 2019. Your company will remain on the public disclosure register with a statement to the effect that you have responded fully to the disclosure request and confirmed that you have no exposure to TSF's. 

 

Q: How should we format the disclosure? 

A: We have made available a sample Excel spreadsheet that you would be welcome to use. It is available here.