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MEI Online: Environmental Issues: Latest News: June 5th 2003

:: EU Drafts Rules to Cut Risk of Mining-Waste Spills  

The European Commission proposed tougher rules on mining companies on Monday to reduce the risks of environmental disasters caused by waste dumps and toxic ponds collapsing.

If passed by European Union governments and the EU parliament, the bill would set new standards for waste dumps and make mining and quarrying firms put up financial guarantees to ensure waste is dealt with even if they go bust.

"The proposed directive will help prevent serious accidents resulting from the mismanagement of mining waste like the disaster at Baia Mare in 2000 where the whole of the Danube was polluted with cyanide," EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom said.

The new proposals were prompted by the Baia Mare gold mine disaster, when waste from a state-owned mine in Romania devastated a network of rivers, and a 1988 spill at a lead and zinc mine run by a division of Sweden's Boliden, which threatened Spain biggest wildlife reserve.

The extractive industries produce the biggest volumes of waste of any sector in the EU, the Commission said 400-million tons a year, or 29% of the EU's total.



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