In January 2019, the catastrophic tailings dam failure at the Córrego do Feijão mining facility in Brumadinho, Brazil, led to over 245 deaths, with many others still missing.

The tragic event triggered a group of institutional investors to write to 726 extractive companies seeking greater disclosure on the management of tailings storage facilities (‘TSF’) and establishment of the Investor Mining & Tailings Safety Initiative.

This investor-led engagement effort has convened institutional investors active in extractive industries, including major asset owners and asset managers. Governed through a Steering Committee Chaired by the Church of England Pensions Board and the Swedish Council of Ethics of the AP Funds, investors representing over $13 trillion assets under management are already behind the initiative.

Input has also been sought from communities impacted by the recent disaster, leading international experts, government representatives, leading international technical advisors as well as company representatives.

Adam Matthews (Church of England Pensions Board) and John Howchin (Council on Ethics for the Swedish Public Pension Funds) have acted on behalf of the UN backed Principles for Responsible Investment as co-convenors of a “Global Tailings Review” alongside the International Council of Mining and Metals, and the UN Environment Programme. This Review commissioned the development of a Global Tailings Standard under an independent chair and expert panel. It has taken just over a year and a half for this standard to be developed, consulted on, and now agreed by the co-convenors. See here for statements from Adam Matthews and John Howchin.

Key actions taken so far have included investor round tables, a global summit and creation of an international TSF database.

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