NEW STANDARDS OF SUSTAINABLE MINING MANAGEMENT FOR UNE
The Subcommittee 3 ‘Sustainable Mining Management’ of the Technical Committee of Standardization CTN 22 has worked intensively to develop new UNE standards of sustainable mining management, which update those of 2015. These standards have been published and can be seen on the UNE website:
- UNE 22480:2019 Sustainable Mining Management System. Requirements.Replaces UNE 22480:2015
- UNE 22470:2019 Sustainable Mining-Mineral Processing-Metallurgy Management System. Indicators. Replaces UNE 22470:2015
Expanding the area of application of standards for metallurgical transformation and extractive metallurgy is one of the main novelties of this regulation. It adds to mineral processing and concentration in the previous version, which made it necessary to create and include UNE Standard 22470, with various indicators and parameters applicable to the expansion.
Facilitate environmental objectives
This new standard seeks to provide a political mechanism to promote responsible behavior in organizations that operate in mining industries, mineral processing concentration or transformation and extractive metallurgy. An attitude that maintains quality in products and services provided.
It also specifies the requirements of a system of sustainable mining-metallurgy management with the idea of giving organizations in the sector a tool that helps them achieve environmental, social and economic objectives. Requirements that do not depend on the size of the organization.
Advanced initiatives related to sustainability
This standard is aligned with the most advanced initiatives related to sustainability in general, as are the Principles of the United Nations Global Compact, the guidelines of the OCDE for multinational companies, the governing principles for companies and human rights of the United Nations, Ecuador Principles, the performance standards of Environmental and Social (IFC World Bank) as well as a specific field of the mining sector such as Bettercoal and sector supplement for mining and metallurgy of Global Reporting Initiative.
At the root of all this, it is important to emphasize that the extraction of minerals is not a problem for conserving the environment. On the contrary. The extraction industry in Europe can be a great ally of biodiversity and conservation. Although to do so, it is necessary to break down stereotypes and prejudices.
In this way, the EU directives of the Natura 2000 Network can consider the development of economic activities in protected areas only if they guarantee the objectives of conservation. The idea is not to create sanctuaries of nature that exclude all human activities.
Extraction sites in the Natura 2000 Network
There are almost thirty thousand mines in Europe. Among them, almost one fourth are located in protected areas of Natura 2000. This shows the potential that these resources have to contribute positively to the conservation of nature. When managed correctly, the extraction of rocks and minerals does not have to be harmful to its environment, yet can be beneficial.
Among European environmental experts, the belief exists that sustainable mining has a place in these areas of Natura 2000. It is also true that the European Commission has the Guidance on Non-Energy Extractive Industries and Natura 2000, which explains how to proceed with new mine areas located within these areas.
Protection of habitats and biodiversity
While the extraction phase of a mine or quarry is in progress, it is usual to find species that coexist with the presence of workers. That is why it is crucial for mining techniques to be adapted to protect the biodiversity and existing habitat. Always with consultation from experts.
Safety and surveillance are also important aspects of what mining companies do in these natural environments. We must consider the fact that mining areas cannot be visited by tourists, unauthorized vehicles cannot pass through, and in addition, hunting grounds are excluded, making these areas a refuge for endangered wildlife.
In Spain, mining is a strictly regulated and controlled activity from an environmental standpoint. Rigorous impact studies are necessary to authorize mining projects. Financial guarantees are even required for the possible restoration of areas affected by extraction.