Mining industry responds to EU policy paper

Euromines calls for flexible legislation to take account of local conditions, says IPPC extension possible

Any future additional EU legislation on mining activities should allow a maximum amount of individual member state flexibility over mine regulation if environmental protection is to be maintained, according to European mining industry association Euromines. The association was responding today to a policy paper issued by the European Commission earlier this month on making mining more sustainable. In it, the Commission suggested revising an existing EU directive on industrial accidents and introducing a new one on managing mine wastes (ENDS Daily 2 May).

"The industry strongly believes that due to the particular site conditions, geography, geology and climate, mines operate best [under] those regulations best suited to the specific site and adapted to local conditions," spokesman Shaun Stewart said today. "Measures applied according to the subsidiarity principle will provide the best practical environment protection," he said.

After recent serious environmental incidents at mining facilities in Romania and Spain, the EU is facing increasing pressure to include the sector in major directives which currently do not affect it. However, Euromines said today that extending the EU's Seveso II directive on major industrial accident hazards "would not have prevented" disasters such as the 1998 Doñana spill.

In contrast, the association said it would be prepared to join the list of industry sectors regulated by the 1996 integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC) directive, but only if the EU's definition of waste were changed. It said a loophole in the current definition would make its emissions appear far greater than they actually were. It claimed that the same problem had exaggerated the sector's apparent emissions in the USA after a recent revision of its toxic release inventory (ENDS Daily 12 May). Mines already fell under IPPC-like legislation in EU member states such as Sweden, it said.

Follow Up:
Euromines, tel: +32 2 775 6331.

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