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Part D: Environment - 38. Environment | 38.4 Management of Waste/Hazardous Materials

This language should make provision to: (a) ensure operators have procedures in place to identify and account for waste/hazardous material, and (b) rectify any problems associated with waste management. Legislation should make reference to the type of license that the specific obligations are attached to and consider legacy issues or the potential environmental consequences after the company ceases operations.

Legislation should also outline the information that must be provided on this issue in an application to receive a mining license (for an example, see Example 1 from Zambia).

A number of countries impose an overriding duty in relation to waste, including requiring a “chain of custody” to follow from the generation of waste to its ultimate disposal. For example, the US under its Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) provides a number of detailed “cradle to grave” requirements for the disposal of solid and hazardous waste, primarily through its waste management regulations codified in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

38.4. Example 1:

Article [_]

(1) The mineral rights holder shall take preventive, corrective and/or restorative measures to ensure that all streams and water bodies, all dry land surfaces, and the atmosphere be protected from pollution, contamination or damage resulting from operations hereunder […]; and that any existing pollution, contamination and damage of or to such water bodies, land surfaces, and atmosphere resulting from operations hereunder be rectified; and that the terrain, in general, be restored to and left in a usable state for purposes which are economically or socially desirable.

(2) Every application for a mineral right shall include or be accompanied by:

(a) The applicant's environmental plan, including his proposals for the prevention of pollution, the treatment of wastes, the protection and reclamation of land and water resources, and for eliminating or minimizing the adverse effects on the environment of mining operations.

(b) In the case of large scale mining licenses, the developer shall attach to the environmental impact statement a map showing the location of the tailings, waste and overburden dumps.

Annotation

Adapted from an exploration agreement with a private company from Liberia, these provisions are designed to address the various means by which hazardous/waste material can impact the environment.

Other provisions offered here are also inspired by Zambia’s mining legislation, providing detail concerning the information regarding the treatment of waste/hazardous materials that must accompany any license application.

38.4. Example 2:

Article [_] Hazardous/waste material and the land owner.

No holder of a mineral right shall create unprotected pits, hazardous waste dumps or other hazards such as to be likely to endanger the stock, crops or any lawful activity of the owner or lawful occupier of the land covered by such mineral right.

Article [_] Hazardous/waste material and mineral rights

Permission is granted only to stack or dump any mineral or waste product in a manner approved by the [Regulating Authority] in consultation with the health and environmental authorities.

Article [_] The Mining Development and Remediation Plan

The holder of mineral rights shall not commence mining activity prior to approval of a Mining Development and Remediation Plan by the [Regulating Authority]. The Mining Development and Remediation Plan must identify (a) the lands and minerals impacted by the mining operation, (b) any waters, flora or fauna, habitats, communities or other natural resource impacted by the proposed mining operation, (c) describe the practices, including system design and construction plans, and operation and maintenance plans, proposed to reduce, control, mitigate, or eliminate the adverse environmental or human impacts, (d) a remediation plan that includes a budget and funding for implementation, and (e) any other requirement as specified by the [Regulating Authority].

Article [_] Community development agreement

(1) The holder of a mineral right is required to have and implement a community development agreement with the primary host community if its approved mining operation will or does exceed any of the following limits:

(a) In the case of underground mining operations, where annual combined run-of-mine ore and waste production is more than one hundred thousand tons per year (waste material not exiting mine mouth to be excluded);

(b) In the case of open-cast mining operations extracting minerals from primarily non-alluvial deposits, where annual combined run-of-mine ore, rock, waste and overburden production is more than two hundred and fifty thousand tons per year.

(2) Any approvals in this context shall be given by the [Regulating Authority] who will be responsible for the implementation of this [Act][Code][Law] and shall be appointed by the [Administrative Reviewer] responsible for natural resources. The [Administrative Reviewer] is the [Secretary of the Minerals Advisory Board)].

Annotation

Adapted from Sierra Leone's mining law (2009), this provision are designed to address the various means by which hazardous/waste material can impact the environment.

These provisions acknowledge the importance of protecting the land owners’ rights and the communities most likely to be affected by any operations.They also acknowledge the importance of having an evaluator of the mining activities and prior approval of a remediation and implementation plan to ensure that the operator will employ best management practices and comply with applicable environmental standards. As in the U.S., the regulator would then be afforded the right to review and approve of the plan to confirm that the operator is following the applicable environmental standards. Consideration could be given to providing more guidance as to what constitutes “waste product” for example, in implementing regulations.

Note: this language is used in a number of the region’s countries’ legislation (including Uganda and Botswana).