China's Henan province to tackle mine waste disposal risks

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China’s central Henan province has pledged to cut the number of tailings dams in the province by 10% by end-2022, aiming to reduce the risk of disasters and cut mine pollution, the province’s emergency management department said.

China has been working to improve its management of tailings dams - the most common waste disposal method for mining firms - following a fatal dam collapse in Brazil in 2019 and a spill in northeast Heilongjiang province earlier this year..

China has nearly 8,000 tailings dams, the most in the world, while Henan is one of 10 provinces that together account for over 75% of tailings dams in the country.

The provincial emergency management department said in July that 99 dams required special attention as there were homes or major facilities within a one kilometre radius.

In an online statement dated Sept. 16, the department said it would strictly limit new projects and strengthen the closure of tailings dams abandoned for more than three years.

It also asked companies to set up online safety monitoring systems before the end of June 2022.

Reporting by Min Zhang in Beijing and Emily Chow in Shanghai; editing by Richard Pullin