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Management of waste from extractive industries

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Management of waste from extractive industries

The European Union has introduced measures to prevent or minimise any adverse effects on the environment and health arising from the management of waste from extractive industries.

ACT

Directive 2006/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on the management of waste from extractive industries and amending Directive 2004/35/EC - Statement by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission

SUMMARY

WHAT DOES THIS DIRECTIVE DO?

Directive 2006/21/EC introduces measures for safe management of waste resulting from the extraction, treatment and storage of mineral resources and the working of quarries.

KEY POINTS

A facility operator needs a permit to run an extractive industry waste facility. This Directive lays down the rules for the granting of permits to operators by the authorities designated by each EU country

Authorities must take measures when a new facility is built or an existing one is modified concerning:

  • location;
  • its physical stability;
  • ensuring prevention of soil, air and water pollution;
  • monitoring and inspection;
  • facility closure, land rehabilitation and the after-closure phase.

Category A waste facilities*

Operators of Category A facilities (which pose particular health and environment risks) must draw up:

  • a policy for accident prevention and a safety management system;
  • an internal emergency plan specifying the on-site measures to be taken if an accident occurs.

Classification criteria for Category A facilities are further defined in Decision 2009/337/EC.

National authorities must draw up external emergency plans specifying off-site measures in the event of an accident.

Operators must provide a financial guarantee to ensure that the Directive’s obligations are covered prior to operations beginning. They must also ensure that funding is available for site restoration when a facility closes down.

Decision 2009/335/EC defines technical guidelines for the establishment of financial guaranties.

Waste management

Operators must draw up a waste management plan that prevents or reduces waste generation, and encourages waste recovery and safe waste disposal. It must be reviewed every 5 years by the authorities.

It must include:

  • a description of the waste and its characterisation (i.e. its chemical, physical, geological features). Technical requirements for waste characterisation laid down in Annex II of the Directive are elaborated by Decision 2009/360/EC. In addition, Decision 2009/359/EC completes the definition of inert waste;
  • a description of the substances that process mineral resources and methods used to transport and process the waste;
  • the control and monitoring procedures;
  • measures for facility closure and after-closure monitoring;
  • preventive measures for water and soil pollution.

Authorities must ensure that operators have taken measures to prevent water and soil contamination, in particular by:

  • evaluating and preventing leachate (i.e. any liquid percolating through the deposited waste, including polluted drainage) generation so that surface water and groundwater can escape waste contamination;
  • collecting and treating contaminated water and leachate to ensure their discharge.

Regarding the use of cyanide in mineral extraction, the Directive introduces measures aimed at limiting its concentration in tailings ponds* and waste waters.

Inspections and reports

The authorities must inspect waste facilities at regular intervals, including after their closure. Operators are required to keep up-to-date records of all operations and to make them available for inspection by authorities. Every 3 years, EU countries must send the European Commission a report on the Directive's implementation.

WHEN DOES THIS DIRECTIVE APPLY?

From 1 May 2006.

KEY TERMS

* Category A waste facilities: a waste facility is classed as Category A if:

  • a failure or incorrect operation, e.g. the collapse of a heap or the bursting of a dam, could give rise to a major accident, on the basis of a risk assessment taking into account factors such as the present or future size, the location and the environmental impact of the waste facility; or
  • it contains waste classified as hazardous (above a certain threshold); or
  • it contains substances or preparations classified as dangerous (above a certain threshold).

* Tailings ponds: tailings are the waste rock and effluents (some of them chemical, such as cyanide) from the mining process. Tailings are often pumped into ponds to undergo sedimentation where the various solids are separated from the water.

For more information, see:

REFERENCES

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2006/21/EC

1.5.2006

-

OJ L 102, 11.4.2006, pp. 15-34.

Amending act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 596/2009

7.8.2009

-

OJ L 188, 18.7.2009, pp. 14-92.

RELATED ACTS

Commission Decision 2009/335/EC of 20 April 2009 on technical guidelines for the establishment of the financial guarantee in accordance with Directive 2006/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the management of waste from extractive industries (OJ L 101, 21.4.2009, pp. 25-25)

Commission Decision 2009/337/EC of 20 April 2009 on the definition of the criteria for the classification of waste facilities in accordance with Annex III of Directive 2006/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the management of waste from extractive industries (OJ L 102, 22.4.2009, pp. 7-11)

Commission Decision 2009/358/EC of 29 April 2009 on the harmonisation, the regular transmission of the information and the questionnaire referred to in Articles 22(1)(a) and 18 of Directive 2006/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the management of waste from extractive industries (OJ L 110, 1.5.2009, pp. 39-45)

Commission Decision 2009/359/EC of 30 April 2009 completing the definition of inert waste in implementation of Article 22(1)(f) of Directive 2006/21/EC of the European Parliament and the Council concerning the management of waste from extractive industries (OJ L 110, 1.5.2009, pp. 46-47)

Commission Decision 2009/360/EC of 30 April 2009 completing the technical requirements for waste characterisation laid down by Directive 2006/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the management of waste from extractive industries (OJ L 110, 1.5.2009, pp. 48-51)

last update 09.09.2015

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