Best Environmental Practices in the Mining Sector in the Barents Region

International Conference 23-25 April 2013

image of Best Environmental Practices in the Mining Sector in the Barents Region

The natural resources of the Barents Region are of strategic importance for Europe. One intensively developing sector is mining, which will bring new opportunities to the region, but which will also cause changes in the environment. The Conference on Best Environmental Practices in the Mining Sector in the Barents Region was held in Rovaniemi in April 2013. The Conference targeted the environmental issues connected to the mining sector and promoted best environmental practices for mines in the Barents Region. The overall goal for the Conference was to increase awareness of the challenges in the mining sector and to exchange information on assessing and managing social and environmental concerns. These Conference proceedings present the Concept Note on Common Challenges of the Conference and the abstracts of the presentations.

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Best environmental practices in the mining sector

The 27 countries of the European Union generate more than 670 million tons of mine waste. Swedish mines produce about 90 million tons annually, and of that two thirds is sulphuric. The most important potential long-term environmental consequence of mining activities is the formation of Acid Rock Drainage (ARD) from sulphide-bearing mine wastes, which can continue for hundreds or thousands of years after mine closure. Economic factors have a significant impact on the viability of methods for treating ARD because decommissioned mine sites require longterm maintenance even in cases where walk-away solutions have been implemented. The costs incurred by the mining industry for the treatment of such wastes and any environmental problems they might cause depend on the approach used to manage closed sites, and can potentially be minimized by adopting long-term post-closure treatment plans. It is therefore important for the industry to adopt and implement new techniques designed to minimize the production of waste with the potential to form ARD during the mining phase, and the severity of the problems caused by ARD formation. Once ARD formation has begun, it is generally difficult and costly to control or suppress, and so it is more cost- and material-efficient to prevent or minimize sulphide oxidation at the source than to treat ARD-contaminated waters.


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