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Regulation of mine waters in the european union: The contribution of scientific research to policy development

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Jaime AmezagaORCiD, Professor Paul Younger


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A review of existing legislation in the light of recent major dam failures (Aznalcollar, Spain, 1998; Baia Mare, 2000, Romania) highlights the need to develop appropriate regulations at the regional, national, and European Union (EU) levels. Although mining incidents as a result of dam failures are very conspicuous, chronic problems related to waters from mining voids and tailings are also very significant. In that sense, though mine waters are an integral part of the water cycle, they are rarely regulated as such. Ongoing discussions with Member States and stakeholders are focusing on mining wastes rather than mine water. Regulating only mine waste handling facilities and ignoring the mine voids would in many cases miss the main long-term pollutant source. Planned changes in EU environmental legislation with regard to mining cannot be properly understood outside of worldwide developments in this area. Adequate management of applied scientific research initiatives and policy formulation is crucial to satisfactory outcomes at EU and global levels. At the EU level, this interface is exemplified by the nature and anticipated outcomes of two EU-funded research projects (ERMITE and PIRAMID). Ways in which policy-focused deliverables are being developed by these projects, which interface science, engineering, and policy, are highlighted. This review of EU legislation not only highlights the difficulty of clearly assigning liability for mining contamination, but also the dilemma between the promotion of sustainable development (through the EU environmental legislation) and the irreversible nature of the exploitation of mineral deposits. © IMWA Springer-Verlag 2002.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kroll A, Amezaga JM, Younger PL, Wolkersdorfer C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Mine Water and the Environment

Year: 2002

Volume: 21

Issue: 4

Pages: 193-200

ISSN (print): 1025-9112

ISSN (electronic): 1616-1068


DOI: 10.1007/s102300200043


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