Database offers new details on the dams that hold mining waste


  • A new database called the Global Tailings Portal pulls together information on 1,700 dams that store waste, or tailings, from mines around the world.
  • Around 100 publicly traded companies have shared information about their dams with GRID-Arendal, the Norwegian foundation that developed the database.
  • The portal’s creators say that much of the information, including the size, location, and risk factors associated with the included dams, hasn’t been publicly available before, even as catastrophic dam failures continue to occur.

On Jan. 25, 2019, the Brumadinho dam collapsed, releasing a slurry of water containing the waste products, or tailings, from the Córrego do Feijão iron ore mine in southeastern Brazil. The deluge that surged downstream killed 270 people, and for Vale, the company that ran the mine, it was the second such deadly accident in less than four years.

That catastrophe spurred a group of institutional investors to ask more than 700 mining companies to share information about how they store tailings at their mines. From the responses, GRID-Arendal, a Norway-based foundation, created the Global Tailings Portal, launched on the one-year anniversary of the Brumadinho collapse.

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