SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOPRED GROUP
Red Group was chaired by John Haines, WHO and Gerry Miles DTI, UK, with Paul White, ILZSG as rapporteur.
There were 27 in the group, 12 from industry, 10 from governmental organisations, one of which was health, 3 academics and 2 NGOs.
Essential to Everyday Life
Metals are an essential part of everyday life, indeed are fundamental to civilisation. They are naturally occurring and in plentiful supply.
The have unique properties and allow manufacture of a wide range of products. Substitution of metals has not generally been properly researched and in many cases is impractical or impossible.
Environmentally - metals are highly recyclable. Exploration for new deposits improves the knowledge of the local environmental map as well as the geology, and sometimes results in the discovery of new species.
Socially -their use creates wealth in particular for developing countries in terms of stable employment, generating a local economy, improving or establishing an infrastructure, developing skills amongst local populations which generally become more healthy through improved nutrition and living standards etc. It also attracts investment and generates a flow of currency. Exploration encourages access to remote areas, and today the trend towards development of large operations is replacing short term mining operations of the past resulting in longer term impact of the social benefits of such activity.
Lack of trust of industry and of government came up when we discussed impact of exploration and mining but holds true to a certain extent for all metal operations.
(i) Communication needs to be improved between governments and industry and between industry and local communities.
(ii) Problems in legal systems which prohibit effective communication need to be addressed.
(iii) Levels of expectation raised by exploration and then opening of new mines and plants need to be managed. This applies to both positive and negative expectations.
Environmental and Social Impact Assessment - area which seeks to be addressed.
Responsibilities regarding exploration need to be negotiated in advance.
All parties should expect an adequate and transparent environmental and social assessments of the impact of the mine. Establishment of standards and criteria acceptable to all stake holders should be implemented.
Industry Challenges related particularly to mining
Impact on Social Structure
Disruption to local communities the local environment and cultures needs to be taken into account by mining companies in advance of mine construction.
Mining companies need to act responsibly to ensure the rehabilitation of old and current mines is carried out correctly.
Mining companies should take account of the fact that many of the benefits associated with the construction of a mine will only last for the life time of that mine.
The volume of waste generated and the impact of the surroundings should be properly assessed and controlling steps taken. .
BAT and Practices
Adoption of best available technology and practices taking into account the nature and circumstances of a site and the cost involved should be undertaken.
Every effort should be made to protect occupational health and safety.
Long Term Care
Long term care and treatment issues need to be correctly dealt with e.g. acid mine drainage.
Government Challenges in relation to mining:
Applying the SD concept to all sectoral activity within a region when taking decisions on new mining projects.
Better co-ordination between development assistance and the exploration and exploitation of resources should be undertaken.
Challenges for Metal Production and Use Generally
There needs to be a better understanding by society of issues related to metal exposure.
Derivation of Regulation
Present regulations are based on organic substances rather than inorganic. This issue needs to be addressed.
Regulations should be structured to allow increased recycling of metals and improvements of reclamation and collection technologies encouraged.
Legislation should be based on an open, transparent and scientific process in which all parties are involved.
Capacity to manage risk needs to be addressed
Classification of Waste verses raw material in relation to slags and residues is a major challenge.
There is a challenge to increase the amount of metal being recovered through recycling including improved reclamation technology
Pollution Prevention and Control
Need for pollution prevention and control
High Energy and Transportation Costs are a challenge associated with almost all parts of the metal production chain. This leads to production of greenhouse gases which need to be addressed.
Increased investor and consumer demand for responsibly produced and managed products. There is an opportunity here for companies who realise this but it is a distinct threat to those who do not.
More need to be done to improve public perception.
Also more effort to ensure that difficulties in distinguishing between responsibly and irresponsibly produced metals are resolved.
R&D and E&T
Continuous need for R&D, education, training, improvement of production techniques.
Way Forward to Address Challenges
(i) the classification of secondary raw materials as waste, and
(ii) to ensure that "innocent" products are not inadvertently caught by legislation e.g. legislation to prevent exposure to nickel on jewellery threatens the use of stainless steel surgical instruments!
G.I.Miles Co-Chair 1 December 1999