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Can_existing_EU_legislation_prevent_a_future_cyanide_spill_2

Can_existing_EU_legislation_prevent_a_future_cyanide_spill_2

Can existing EU legislation prevent a future cyanide spill? by Daniel Popov and Maria Kadoglou and Stephanie Roth 1 One of the arguments raised by the European Commission is that a ban of cyanide-based mining is not necessary since current relevant EU legislation (i.e. EIA Directive 85/337/EEC as amended by 97/11/EC and 2003/35/EC, the Mining Waste Directive 2006/21/EC, Directive 96/82/EC on the control of major accident hazards involving dangerous substances, as amended by Directive 2003/105/EC etc.) ensures the proper assessment of the risks and provision of mitigation measures for environmental protection vis-à-vis large scale mine proposals. There exists no empirical evidence to back the Commissioner for the environment’s recent claim that an EU cyanide-ban would be ‘detrimental to employment’ 2 . If anything, modern cyanide-based mine operations tend to be less labor intensive than their cyanide-free equivalent. A ban will not prevent new gold mining operations either 3 but will act as a much-needed catalyst for safe alternatives; promoting the recycling of precious metals of E-waste and generate lasting green jobs. In what follows below are recent case studies highlighting that EU legislation is poorly enforced; particularly when it comes to large-scale precious metal mining. The focus is on cases where a decision to grant the environmental permit has been taken; this also to highlight the risks that were thus permitted. The Rosia Montana case is the exception to the rule. The aim here has been to show that even the Commission for the environment is lax in enforcing EU legislation. 1. Bulgaria Bulgaria became a full EU member state on 1 January 2007. Three cyanide-based mining proposals were granted permits from the Ministry of Environment during the 2008-2009 periods. a.) The Chelopech Case At Chelopech Canadian Dundee wished to develop an open cast mine using cyanide to separate the gold from the ore. The environmental permit for the introduction of cyanide leaching was cancelled on 15 th of April 2010 by a final decision of the Supreme Administrative Court with the following arguments: The information in the EIA report was old (from 2005) and did not properly consider the impact of the cyanide leaching installation and the tailings dam on heavily polluted surroundings (specified as an “environmental hot spot”). The Ministry of Environment and Waters incorrectly specified that the public hearings should be held only in the two closest villages with a total population of 3000 inhabitants, while the project would affect a much larger area downstream. Therefore the public hearings on the EIA report excluded most of the potentially affected communities and violated their right to participate in the decision making procedure. 1 Daniel Popov is the director of the Sofia-based Centre for Environmental Information and Education, Maria Kadolgou is a member of the Hellenic Mining Watch and Stephanie Roth is a member of Alburnus Maior/Romania. More information at www.bankwatch.org and http://antigoldgreece.wordpress.com/ and www.rosiamontana.org 2 See Digging Gold With a Cyanide Lining at http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=52178 3 Pampalo Gold Mine will not use cyanide in its gold concentrating Process, Endomines, Stockholm, 28 May 2010 at www.endomines.com and www.investegate.co.uk/article.aspx?id=20100528150100H9800 July 2010 1

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