Authors: Crouse, P; Abshire, M; Snow, R

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Crouse, P, Abshire, M & Snow, R 2023, 'USA regulations and state of practice for the closure of tailings dams—an update', in B Abbasi, J Parshley, A Fourie & M Tibbett (eds), Mine Closure 2023: Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth,

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This paper presents the progress in developing guidelines for States and the United States mining industry for the closure of a tailings storage facility. In 2022, the United States Society on Dams (USSD’s) published a white paper describing the misalignment and inconsistency between industry practice and regulations for tailings storage facility closure at legacy and new mine sites in the United States. Since its publication, the US has made progress in educating and informing the mining community on the safe transition of a tailings dam from operation to closure in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner and considering its potential as a benefit to the community. The Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) Tailings Dam Regulatory Committee and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are finalizing an update to the Model State Dam Safety Program that includes a Tailings Dam Supplement that will begin to fill the gap in the National Dam Safety Program publication relative to tailings dams. This Tailings Dam Supplement will address planning, risk management, design, construction, operation, and closure for consideration in the regulation of tailings dams. Under contract to FEMA, the USSD is developing technical guidelines for tailings dams, including closure considering transition through the closure process and potential measures to meet long-term dam safety deregulation. Additionally, education and certification programs are now available through a network of industry and collaborating universities for the safe operation and closure of tailings dams. An update on these and other guidelines that can be used by States to become aligned with the leading Practice for tailings storage facility closure.

Keywords: Tailings Dam, Tailings, Tailings Storage Facility, United States Mine Closure Regulations, United States Society on Dams, White Paper

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