The European Union has multiple legal instruments to regulate waste including mining waste, promoting safety and sustainability. In addition to general industrial regulation, specific legislation includes the Mining Waste Directive, which details the requirements for the safe management of extractive waste, including proper characterization of the waste, provision of financial guarantees, emergency plans, a policy for prevention of major accidents and the development of safety management systems for operations where there is a risk to public health or the environment (Twardowska et al. 2010).
The European Commission, Member States, the mining industry and stakeholders have progressively built up this regulatory framework, starting with publication of a Best Available Techniques reference document for the management of tailings and waste rock in 2004 (currently under revision), adoption of the Mining Waste Directive in 2006 and a series of supporting Commission Decisions and guidance documents from 2009 to 2012. Recognizing that innovation is the indispensable and fundamental basis of growth in the European Union, a European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials was launched at the end of 2012, to bring together raw-material suppliers and raw-material users and to ensure that innovations with a societal benefit get to market more quickly (Allard et al. 2013).
The European Union also has applicable rules regarding water protection, nature protection, environmental impact assessment, major industrial accidents, environmental liability and health and safety. It has been suggested that this robust legislation could provide a model for other countries to emulate (Allard et al. 2013; Scannell 2012).
From collection: Mine Tailings Storage: Safety Is No Accident