A Rich Vein? Mining and the Pursuit of Sustainability


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A Rich Vein? Mining and the Pursuit of Sustainability

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A Rich Vein? Mining and the Pursuit of Sustainability

  1. 1. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2011, 45, 21–26 which can be defined as exploitation of a nonrenewableA Rich Vein? Mining and the Pursuit resource (such as a mineral deposit) such that it gives riseof Sustainability† to long-term benefits (environmental and/or social and/or economic) that equal or exceed the values that existed prior to exploitation (2). At the crudest level, the “economicJAIME M. AMEZAGA* sustainability” of a given mining operation can be estimatedTOBIAS S. ROTTING ¨ by comparing extraction rates to estimates of total reserves.PAUL L. YOUNGER However, this coarse approach implicitly assumes that theNewcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability, only important episode in the life of a mine site is that periodNewcastle University, U.K. during which active mining takes place. This is fallacious even on economic grounds, because the wealth generatedROBERT W. NAIRN by mining can circulate in markets for decades or centuriesCREW, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, United States afterward. The postextractive phase of the mine life cycle is, if anything, even more important when it comes to evaluatingANTHONY-JO NOLES environmental sustainability, for which we need to examineAsociacion Civil Labor, Peru ´ the balance of benefits and dis-benefits over the (finite) extractive phase and the (essentially infinite) postclosure ´ phase.RICARDO OYARZUN Environmental benefits and dis-benefits of active miningUniversidad de La Serena, Chile are potentially very broad, affecting any or all of air, soil, water, and biota (1). In the mine’s postclosure phase, by farJORGE QUINTANILLA the most important environmental issues relate to water. AirUniversidad Mayor de San Andres, La Paz, Bolivia ´ and soil pollution are often readily solved by revegetation and landscaping (2). Even mine sites which have otherwise been restored to high standards can subsequently develop pervasive and persistent problems in relation to water quality and quantity. Such problems tend to be most stark in arid catchments, such as the depicted site in Bolivia (Figure 1). ROBERT W. NAIRN In this article we trace the evolution of thinking on sustainability in the mining sector from 1970 to 2010, drawing particularly upon our shared experiences of action research and developments in policy and practice in the U.S., Europe, and South America. Our findings demonstrate that the development of mining within the framework of sustainable development has arisen from the interplay of state regulation with industry-led innovation, paying particular attention to postclosure environmental issues, tempered by open dialogue with other communities of interest (e.g., agriculture, rural and urban development). Emergence of the Sustainability Agenda in Mining Mining has long been a bete noir for environmental and social ˆ activists (1). In the early years, the industry did little to merit a more favorable appraisal. Gradual change began only in the 1980s with the emergence of stricter environmentalStrictly speaking, sustainable development requires that regulations within a handful of national jurisdictions. Initially,human activities are undertaken in such a manner that they the mining sector resented these regulations as externaldo not eliminate options for future generations. Clearly, once impositions. At the global level, the Rio de Janeiro Eartha given mineral deposit has been mined to exhaustion, future Summit in 1992 provoked a decade of reflection in the mininggenerations do not have the option of mining it again; hence sector, as major companies gradually recognized that genuinemining fails to qualify as sustainable development sensu engagement with environmental and social issues was astricto (1). Consequently, mining can only ever, at best, aspire prerequisite for gaining and retaining the “social license toto compatibility with sustainable development sensu lato, operate” which is necessary for the long-term pursuit of profit in democratic states. This thinking first entered the public † This manuscript is part of the Environmental Policy: Past, Present, domain in 1998 with the Global Mining Initiative (GMI), whichand Future Special Issue. was launched in preparation for the 2002 Johannesburg World * J.M.Amezaga@ncl.ac.uk. Summit. The period 2001-2002 were heady days for the10.1021/es101430e  2011 American Chemical Society VOL. 45, NO. 1, 2011 / ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY 9 21Published on Web 12/28/2010
  2. 2. “sustainable mining” agenda, with the World BusinessCouncil for Sustainable Development completing a major,worldwide stakeholder consultation process on “Mining,Minerals and Sustainable Development” (MMSD) (2), whichadded to the momentum of the GMI to prompt establishmentof the International Council of Mining and Metals (ICMM).The ICMM brings together 19 major mining and metals-finishing companies, together with 30 national and regionalindustrial associations for various mined commodities. The next landmark was reached in 2004 with the WorldBank’s publication of their Extractive Industries Review,which had been undertaken in response to criticisms of WorldBank operations posited by environmental and human rightscampaigners. While acknowledging that the extractive in-dustries can contribute to sustainable development (sensulato), the World Bank recognized that it had to intensify itsefforts to reduce poverty, promote good governance, andfoster transparency and stakeholder engagement in countrieshosting Bank-supported mining activities (3). Minimum FIGURE 1. Leaking tailings dams at an artisanal mine, Lake Poopo Basin, Bolivia. ´global standards set by the World Bank (4) were rapidly ¨ TOBIAS ROTTINGadopted as minimum requirements for mining projectsfinanced under the Equator Principles (the benchmark for footprint” of mining operations during both the extractivemanaging environmental and social impacts of major and postclosure phases of the mine life-cycle (10). To date,investments). however, the instinct in the industry has been to focus almost Since 2001 the ICMM Sustainable Development Frame- wholly on the extractive phase. This has led to a poverty ofwork (ICMM SDF) has been systematically developed (5). understanding, and an under-valuation of water. Until theThe ICMM SDF establishes ten principles to which all mid 1990s, water was largely regarded as at best a necessarymember companies promise adherence. It also commits evil (i.e., something used in the productive process) and moremember companies to independently vetted public reporting commonly as a nuisance or even a mortal threat (in the formin accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative. While of unanticipated inrushes to underground workings). It is“performance” and the reporting thereof are two different only in the last 15 years that mining companies have begunthings (6), and while the ICMM principles can be interpreted to countenance consideration of water as an “environmentaldifferently by different companies (7), our general impression good”, which has to be shared with other users, while ensuringis that there has been a marked improvement in both the maintenance of healthy ecosystems. This new under-performance and public disclosure by ICCM member standing implies strong shifts in the way companies con-companies over recent years. ceptualize water management. Sustainable water manage- Adherence of major mining companies to voluntary codes ment postclosure is best achieved by hydrologically defensiveof practice such as the ICMM SDF has led to a certain planning, starting before the exploration phase. Having takenhomogenization of environmental performance by major all reasonable steps to minimize negative long-term watermining companies irrespective of the strength of national legacies, holistic Environmental Impact Assessment of waterjurisdictions. The great challenge will be achieving adherence use is necessary, and this will only be effective if it isby artisanal and small- to medium-scale mining companies undertaken within a framework of integrated river basinto similar standards. management (8, 11). Long-term plans need to anticipate Clearly, a thorough examination of the evolution of policy changes in mine ownership, which are endemic in theand practice in relation to all dimensions of sustainability industry: inadequate transfer of information during acquisi-(social, economic, and environmental) is beyond the scope tions can lead to loss of control of key infrastructure. Thisof any one paper. Even covering all aspects of environmental has, for instance, been the principal cause of most cata-sustainability would require prohibitively lengthy coverage. strophic failures of tailings dams in the past (12).Hence, to illustrate the dynamics of the evolution of thought Ironically, the less water there is, the more controversialand action in relation to sustainability, we here choose as its management becomes. Analysis of overall water con-the most telling example the case of water management, as sumption in mining shows that it is strongly correlated tothis is widely acknowledged to be the single greatest vector the grade of the initial ore. The declining average ore gradeof environmental nuisance during both the extractive and in most metals provides a major challenge for the futurepostclosure phases of the mine life-cycle. economic sustainability of mining, particularly in arid regions (13). Competition for water resources has already become the principal source of conflict where mines operate in aridWater and Sustainable Mining areas (11). To date, the responses to these problems haveDespite the predominance of water in mining-related varied widely from place to place, and to some degree alsoconflicts (8), the seminal MMSD debates paid it scant between the coal and hard rock (i.e., metal and industrialattention. Restricting its discussion to a brief consideration mineral) sectors, which have differing operational require-of acid drainage, the MMSD report (p 233 in ref 2) claimed ments for water. By considering the cases of the U.S., Europe,that “water consumption in minerals production, while an and the Cono Sur of Latin America, we can tease out someimportant impact, ends when operation ends and thus does of the nuances in these responses as they have emerged undernot represent a long term liability” (our emphasis). This is conditions of varying aridity and contrasting social deprivation.starkly at odds with worldwide experience and the interna- United States. Mining has been undertaken in what istional literature (8): mining can impact water quality for now the U.S. since the earliest days of European settlement.millennia after mine closure (9); groundwater levels can be Tens of thousands of kilometers of rivers are heavily pollutedpermanently affected by networks of drainage galleries and by drainage from abandoned coal and hard rock mines. Moreadits; groundwater can be lost to evaporation from pit lakes. than one million acres of abandoned coal mine lands hadFor these reasons, it is important to evaluate the “water been left in poor quality by the 1970s. In the western states,22 9 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY / VOL. 45, NO. 1, 2011
  3. 3. hundreds of thousands of abandoned hard rock mines have acute in parts of Latin America, particularly where poorbeen recorded, with significant environmental degradation communities still rely on untreated water from local springs(mainly surface and/or groundwater pollution) at some and rivers. Such issues are particularly problematic in33,000 locations (14). Increasing recognition of the severity naturally water-scarce areas, such as the extensive arid areasof these postclosure impacts from the early 1970s has spurred of Bolivia, Chile, and Peru.the development of federal regulatory laws. Early environ- Bolivia. The history of Bolivia is dominated by mining,mental legislation was general in scope, and was gradually which commenced before the Spanish conquest in the 16thfound to be unsuitable for addressing some particular century but greatly intensified thereafter. All of the majorchallenges of the mining sector. In 1977 the first (and only cities of Andean Bolivia owe their origins to mining develop-to date) mining-specific environmental law was enacted, the ments, most notoriously Potosı, which to this day has some ´Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA), of the world’s most dangerous mining operations. The humanalthough this applies only to coal mines. The SMCRA population and ecosystems in this region still endure theconsiderably improved mine abandonment practices and environmental legacy of these activities, in the form of vastraised a levy on active mines to address the legacy of spreads of contaminated land and persistent pollution ofimproperly abandoned mines in coalfield areas; to date this air, soil, and water (e.g., refs 22 and 23).has funded around $5 billion worth of cleanup (15). Con- Bolivian legislation on mining, water, and the environ-troversy still surrounds “mountain-top removal and valley ment is of recent pedigree, essentially commencing infill” coal mining operations (16). No law comparable to the earnest only in 1992 with the enactment of an environmentSMCRA has ever been enacted for hard rock mines. Nev- act from which all subsequent regulations have beenertheless, various federal and state laws now require active derived. Reform of mining law in 1997 introduced ahard rock mines to develop robust closure plans. However, requirement that future mining be conducted in ac-in the absence of SMCRA-like provisions on legacy issues, cordance with the principles of sustainable development,some 156 older abandoned hard rock mine sites continue to with particular emphasis on environmental sustainability.generate significant pollution (mainly of surface waters), the Although the legal framework in Bolivia is now strong,remediation of which would require some $24 billion (17). enforcement remains weak. In this vacuum of responsi-The U.S. experience abundantly illustrates the overwhelming bility, many international mining companies operating inimportance of postclosure environmental quality in deter- Bolivia voluntarily adhere to very high environmentalmining the overall compliance of mining activities with standards, essentially corresponding to those enforced insustainability criteria. North America and Europe. Nevertheless, given the aridity Europe. Mining has been undertaken in Europe for more of much of the mining belt of western Bolivia, strictthan 3,500 years, with at least some activity taking place at adherence to regulations devised in more humid, higher-some time in every country in the continent. European mining latitude countries can give rise to unintended negativedeclined steeply in the 20th century, as coal ceased to be the outcomes. A classic example is the consumption of vastmain source of energy and as European metal mining became amounts of scarce water resources in evaporation ponds,less competitive in global markets. Industrial mineral extrac- in pursuit of the otherwise laudable goal of “zero discharge”tion is the only growth sector in European mining today. site management, which is popular in the gold (Au) miningSuccessful lobbying by the mining industry succeeded in sector. The idea of zero discharge mining is that, if noexempting the sector from much of the environmental water leaves the site, neither will any pollutants. However,legislation enacted over the past half-century of increasing in areas as arid as the Bolivian Altiplano, the consumptiveEuropean integration. For instance, mining was exempted use of water resources to attain “zero discharge” is far lessfrom the integrated pollution control measures which require desirable than treatment and reuse of these waterall other industries to take steps at the end of production to resources.avoid any pollution risk and return the former industrial site Since 2005, the Bolivian government has justifiablyto a satisfactory condition. That mining, of all industries, prioritized rapid economic development to reduce severeshould be excluded from this requirement is simply inde- poverty; in this political climate, environmental sustainabilityfensible in environmental terms, not least because even a is not really a top priority. This has led to burgeoning ofsmall mining operation can disrupt natural hydrological unregulated small- and medium-sized “artisanal” mines,conditions to a far greater extent than surface-based indus- which often have environmental impacts out of proportiontries (8-10). Given this, it is not surprising that a string of to their size. Rapid abandonment of artisanal mines hasenvironmental incidents were to finally expose the utter followed recent declines in international metal prices. Notinadequacy of generic European legislation when dealing only are few precautions taken during closure; falls in metalwith the particular issues raised by mining (18). Two major prices are also reflected in declines in the Bolivian grosstailings dam failures, at Aznalcollar (Spain, 1998) and Baia ´ domestic product, reducing even further the scant resourcesMare (Romania, 2000) (19), prompted the EU to establish a available for environmental protection.Task Force, which recommended a string of legislative Chile. Copper (Cu) mining in Chile currently accounts forchanges (20). The ensuing legislation focuses almost entirely about 55% of national exports and around 37% of total worldon waste handling in active mining operations. Industry production. The majority of Cu deposits occur in the arid tolobbying weakened many of the most significant provisions extremely arid north, where water scarcity hinders mineoriginally envisaged for the Directive, such as requiring a expansion. Before the return to democracy in 1990, theresecondary containment bund around large tailings dams. were few environmental regulations in Chile. Water legislationThe October 2010 outburst of red mud from a tailings enacted under the Pinochet government (1973-1989) wasimpoundment at Ajka in Hungary graphically illustrates how focused on privatization of water services, which was pursuedill-advised this omission was. More broadly, the Directive to a more extreme neo-liberal model in Chile than in anydid not remove the exemption of mining sites from pollution other country. Water resources were assigned entirely toprevention legislation, and also failed to address ongoing private ownership, and a free market was established for thewater pollution from abandoned mine sites, which remains trading of water rights. Notwithstanding 1994 legislationby far the most pressing mining environmental issue in which requires mining developments (and other industries)Europe today (18, 20, 21). to undertake environmental impact assessments, in reality Arid Zones of Latin America. In the new Millennium, the public administration has such limited jurisdiction thatdisputes over mine water pollution have become increasingly sustainable management of water resources is highly difficult VOL. 45, NO. 1, 2011 / ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY 9 23
  4. 4. in Chile today (24). Severe conflicts over access to water some key challenges, which can be conceived as arising fromresources, particularly between the agricultural and mining the incommensurability of values (28). For instance, on whatsectors, have led to social unrest in some parts of Chile, basis can we directly compare a socioeconomic benefit withprompting callssas yet unfulfilledsfor legislative change. the intrinsic value of natural terrain in its preminingAs in Bolivia, many international companies have voluntarily condition? Socioeconomic benefits of mining extend faradopted stricter environmental norms than are demanded beyond the values of wages, dividends, and taxes. Someof them by the state, often using certified environmental ancient mining has left a legacy of World Heritage Sites, whichmanagement systems (25). Nevertheless, given its extreme add socioeconomic value to the land. More mundanely, asneo-liberalism, environmental sustainability cannot truly be recycling of metals gradually replaces primary productionclaimed to be a priority for the state or private investors in by mining (29), further value is added repeatedly to initialChile yet. worth derived from mining long ago. This is but one example Peru. Peru is a world-leading silver (Ag) producer, and of the ways in which wealth generated by former mininga major producer of Cu and zinc (Zn). Since 1960, Peru has activities continues to circulate in the world economy. If wegradually developed a comprehensive legislative frame- are to compare these socioeconomic benefits with thework for mining, water, and the environment. Peruvian intrinsic value of natural terrain in its premining conditionregulations oscillated between economic liberalism and we will require robust estimates of the “non-use value” ofstate ownership until 1993, when a new constitution mineralized ground. Any piece of ground can be considereddeclared all natural resources to be the patrimony of the an environmental asset insofar as it provides the foundationsnation, private use of which could be pursued under upon which natural soils, watercourses, and ecosystemslicense. Further legislation introduced minimum water develop. Mining has the potential to entirely remove thisquality criteria which must be observed by all mining asset value, in whole or in part, temporarily or permanently.operations, and also established the basis for “sustainable” With suitable design, underground mining can be undertakenuse of nonrenewable resources, which in this case is defined in such a manner that pre-existing surface conditions are(rather narrowly) as efficient exploitation of the resource barely altered. However, this is relatively expensive, and isin a manner which prevents or mitigates the negative also more hazardous for miners. Hence, since the mid-20thimpact of the extraction on the surrounding resources and century, more than three-quarters of world mineral produc-the environment. Prior to the creation of the Ministry of tion has been by surface mining, which inevitably entailsthe Environment in 2008, responsibility for enforcement elimination of the previous land surface. In some cases,of these environmental protection measures was split backfilling and reclamation of surface mine sites can returnamong several government ministries. Similarly, the 2009 the land surface to an environmental status which is as goodLaw of Water Resources establishes a National Water as (or even better than) its previous condition (30). This isAuthority, and a system of integrated river basin manage- particularly the case where the land surface was previouslyment. Peru now has the most comprehensive regulatory degraded by other human activities. Where water quality issystem for mining and the environment in South America. not a limiting factor, abandoned surface mine voids can even Nevertheless, about a third of all current social conflicts be developed as reservoirs for public water supply, as hasin Peru are associated with mining, and these are predomi- occurred recently at Belo Horizonte in Brazil (31). However,nantly water-related (26). In many cases, these social conflicts where valuable mineral deposits underlie fragile naturalhave deep historical roots, with memories of previous political ecosystems, restoration to “as good or better” status maydispensations continuing to cloud present-day decision- well be impossible over any reasonable time-scale. In suchmaking. More recent mining developments illustrate the cases, it might well prove impossible to demonstrateefficacy of the modern regulatory system in Peru. For instance, compatibility of mining even with sustainable developmentthe Cerro Verde Cu mine in Arequipa province, southern sensu latissimo.Peru, has expanded its production capacity significantly in And just how “latissimo” would our definition of sustain-the past few years. This has required a substantial increase able development need to be for the socioeconomic benefitsin water use. Being aware of the concerns of the local of mining to justify large-scale and long-term pollution ofpopulation and other water users, the mining company has natural waters for centuries or even millennia after mineimplemented a proactive environmental management strat- closure? Thankfully, in those cases where effective treatmentegy, cofinancing a dam which not only provides water for of abandoned mine waters can be achieved, it is usually thethe mine, but also generates hydroelectric power for the local case that the necessary costs are dwarfed by the wealth yieldedpopulation, and distributes excess water to other users in by the mine during its extractive phase (8). However, thisthe basin of the Rio Chili. may be of little comfort where someone other than the In 2007, the Peruvian nongovernmental organization original polluter (or their heirs) ends up paying for reme-(NGO) Labor and the EU-funded CAMINAR project (Catch- diation (20). Furthermore, there are numerous cases in whichment Management and Mining Impacts in Arid and Semi- comprehensive treatment of abandoned mine waters isArid South America) established a technical advisory group simply not achievable for any conceivable level of investment.for the Rio Chili catchment under the auspices of the Regional For instance, extensive investigations of an intensively minedGovernment. Multistakeholder dialogue convened by this catchment in Cornwall (UK) revealed that treatment of thegroup has established that current mining operations are entire flow in the river would still fail to achieve regulatorynot contaminating the river; sewage from Arequipa City is standards, due to the pervasive presence of vast sources ofthe main source of water pollution (27). The Rio Chili dialogue recontamination downstream (32). At a smaller scale, manygroup is mirrored at the national level by a “Mining Dialogue small, artisanal mines have yielded little wealth, yet haveGroup”, which brings together mining companies, govern- disproportionate environmental impacts which can persistmental agencies, NGOs, and citizens’ groups in an atmo- indefinitely after mine closure (22); this is particularly sosphere of growing reciprocity and trust. where mercury (Hg) is released into rivers from small-scale Au winning operations (33).Conclusions: Aligning Mining with Sustainable So what can be done to improve the chances of aligning mining with sustainable development (sensu lato) in future?Development (Sensu Lato) From our experience of modern mining operations on threeAttaining compatibility between mining and sustainable continents, we would argue that three conditions must bedevelopment sensu lato is contingent upon the resolution of fulfilled:24 9 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY / VOL. 45, NO. 1, 2011
  5. 5. 1. Development and enforcement of regulations which, (4) IFC Environmental, Health and Safety Guidelines. www.ifc.org/ when necessary, can robustly defend environmental ifcext/sustainability.nsf/Content/EHSGuidelines. nonuse benefits of mineral deposits in comparison with (5) ICMM Sustainable Development Framework. www.icmm.com/ our-work/sustainable-development-framework. projected social and economic benefits which could (6) Whitmore, A. The emperor’s new clothes: Sustainable mining. arise from their exploitation. It is crucial that these J. Cleaner Prod. 2006, 14, 309–314. regulations adequately deal with the long-term, post- (7) Perez, F.; Sanchez, L. E. Assessing the evolution of sustainability closure phase of the mine life cycle. reporting in the mining sector. Environ. Manage. 2009, 43, 949– 2. Adoption of voluntary practices by mining companies 961. which exceed the minimum requirements demanded (8) ERMITE Consortium. Mining Impacts on the Fresh Water Environment: Technical and Managerial Guidelines for Catch- by the relevant legal jurisdiction. Foremost among these ment Scale Management. In Mine Water Environ.; Younger, practices are “defensive” mine planning procedures, P. L., Wolkersdorfer, C. H., Eds.; 2004; Supplement 23 pp S1- which embody the principle that “prevention is better S80. than cure”. Detailed discussion of what this might entail (9) Younger, P. L. The longevity of minewater pollution: a basis for in relation to water management has already been decision-making. Sci. Total Environ. 1997, 194/195, 457–66. initiated (34); there is a need to consider how this (10) Younger, P. L. The water footprint of mining operations in space and time - a new paradigm for sustainability assessments. In approach might be expanded to encompass other Proceedings of the Australasian Institution of Mining and environmental compartments and socioeconomic Metallurgy Water in Mining Conference 2006 14-16 November, scenarios. Brisbane, Australia, pp 13-21. 3. Genuine intersectoral dialogue, to resolve long-running (11) Loredo Perez J.; Marques Sierra A. L.; Beggs C.; Venegas M.; conflicts and pro-actively foster mining which embraces Amezaga J. M.; Rotting T. S.; Younger P. L. Water Catchment ¨ sustainable development sensu lato. The Peruvian and Mining Impact Management in Arid and Semi-Arid Zones - an Integrated Approach; Technical Document IHP-LAC No. national Mining Dialogue Group provides a good model 24; UNESCO, 2010. for this. (12) ICOLD. Tailings Dams-Risk of Dangerous Occurrences. Lessons The degree to which these three conditions are realized Learnt from Practical Experiences; ICOLD Bulletin 121; ICOLD:varies from one jurisdiction to the next. In relation to the Paris, 2001.countries considered in this paper, for instance, we would (13) Mudd, G. M. Sustainability reporting and water resources: A preliminary assessment of embodied water and sustainableargue that the U.S. has the best overall performance, and is mining. Mine Water Environ. 2008, 27, 136–144; DOI 10.1007/pre-eminent in relation to condition 1. Europe still has some s10230-008-0037-5.way to go on all three counts, albeit active mining operations (14) Government Accountability Office. GAO. Testimony Before theare now managed far more responsibly than was the case as Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, U.S. Senate, Hardrecently as the 1990s. Peru has recently made impressive rock mining information on abandoned mines and value andprogress in relation to 3. Elsewhere, it is precisely the coverage of financial assurances on BLM land, 2008. (15) Jarrett J. D. Statement before the Subcommittee on Energy andexpansion of activity under 3 that is likely to act as the catalyst Mineral Resources, Committee on Resources, U.S. House offor further developments on 1 and 2. Nevertheless, even at Representatives, on HR 3778 and HR 3796, Washington DC,the present stage of development, there is no shortage of March 30, 2004.individual mining operations which faithfully reflect condi- (16) Palmer, M. A.; Bernhardt, E. S.; Schlesinger, W. H.; Eshleman,tions 2 and 3, even if 1 remains a “work in progress” in terms K. N.; Foufoula-Georgiou, E.; Hendryx, M. S.; Lemly, A. D.; Likens,of government policy. Overall, we believe it is fair to say that G. E.; Loucks, O. L.; Power, M. E.; White, P. S.; Wilcock, P. R. Mountaintop Mining Consequences. Science 2010, 327 (5962),the pursuit of sustainable development (sensu lato) is finally 148–149.coming of age. (17) Environmental Protection Agency. Nationwide Identification of Hard Rock Mining Sites; Office of Inspector General, 2004- P-00005 Washington, DC, 2004.Jaime Amezaga is Senior Lecturer in Environmental Policy andSustainability in the School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences at (18) Amezaga, J. M.; Younger, P. L. Mine water management inNewcastle University (UK), where Paul Younger is a full Professor and European environmental policy: an assessment of recentDirector of the Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability. legislative developments. In. Proceedings of the 7th InternationalTobias Rotting, who was at Newcastle University when this paper was ¨ Conference on Acid Rock Drainage ICARD March 26-30, St. Louis,written, is now a Researcher in the Department of Geotechnical Missouri; Barnhisel, R. I., Ed.; ASMR:Lexington, KY, 2006; ppEngineering and Geosciences, UPC-BarcelonaTech, Spain. Robert 1-12.Nairn is Director, Center for Restoration of Ecosystems and Watersheds (19) Rodrıguez-Tovar, F. J.; Martın-Peinado, F. J. The environmental ´ ´and Associate Professor, School of Civil Engineering and Environmental disaster of Aznalcollar (southern Spain) as an approach to the ´Science, University of Oklahoma, USA. Anthony-Jo Noles is Executive Cretaceous-Palaeogene mass extinction event. Geobiology 2009,Director of the Asociacion Civil Labor. Ricardo Oyarzun is member ´ ´ 7 (5), 533–543.of Departamento Ingenierıa de Minas, Universidad de La Serena and ´ (20) Kroll, A.; Amezaga, J. M.; Younger, P. L.; Wolkersdorfer, C.Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Zonas Aridas (CEAZA-ULS, Chile). Regulation of mine waters in the European Union: TheJorge Quintanilla is Emeritus Professor of Universidad Mayor de San contribution of scientific research to policy development. MineAndres, La Paz, Bolivia. ´ Water Environ. 2002, 21, 193–200. (21) Mayes, W. M.; Johnston, D.; Potter, H. A. B.; Jarvis, A. P. 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