Environmental Management

Environmental Management

Environmental Management: The management of the natural resource base within ecosystems is the continuous responsibility of any society seeking to become more sustainable.

To this end, governments should consider:

Management of water by:

  • Having appropriate environmental management standards in place for the use of surface and groundwater. These standards would be strictly monitored, and have appropriate penalties should they be compromised;
  • Requiring that mining entities ensure that the quality and quantity of mine effluent streams discharged to the environment—including storm water, leach pad drainage, process effluents and mine works drainage—are managed and treated to meet established effluent discharge guideline values;
  • Requiring that mining entities ensure that water leaching or percolating waste dumps, tailings storage areas and leach pads have equivalent protection; and
  • Requiring that mining entities have in place practices and plans that minimize the likelihood of impacts beyond the mining site, particularly potential transboundary impacts.

Avoiding and minimizing potential adverse effects to biodiversity by:

  • Requiring that mining entities submit environmental management programs and updates for approval, during the permitting process and whenever there are significant process or operational changes during the operating life of the mine;
  • Identifying, monitoring and addressing potential and actual risks and impacts to biodiversity throughout the mining cycle; and
  • Requiring that mining entities conduct monitoring on a continuous basis based on national standards and the conditions of the operating permit, compile and submit performance assessments to government, and publish regular reports that are readily accessible to the public.

Managing mining wastes by:

  • Ensuring that structures such as waste dumps and tailing storage facilities are planned, designed and operated such that geotechnical risks and environmental impacts are appropriately assessed and managed throughout the entire mine cycle and after mine closure;
  • Requiring that mining entities design, operate and maintain mine waste structures according to internationally recognized standards; and
  • Requiring that mining entities commission independent expert reviews and report to governments prior to development approval, when changes in design are proposed, and at regular intervals during the operating phase.

The development and implementation of an emergency-preparedness program by:

  • Requiring all mining operations to have an emergency-preparedness and response program prior to commencement of operations and ensuring that the program is reviewed, tested and updated on a regular basis;
  • Basing all elements of the emergency-preparedness program on ongoing consultation and cooperation with local and other stakeholders and government; and
  • Ensuring that monitoring of the effectiveness and responsiveness of the emergency-preparedness program is conducted by companies in cooperation with communities and all levels of government.
  • Ensuring that mine emergency plans are comprehensive and meet current best practice standards, specifically by:
  • Requiring the development of emergency-preparedness programs as part of an environmental impact assessment for any new operation;
  • Requiring regular review and updating of such programs;
  • Requiring consultation and cooperation with local, regional, national and—as appropriate—transboundary stakeholders in the development and maintenance of emergency-preparedness programs;
  • Endorsing and promoting international best practices, such as the APELL process, at national or regional levels to better coordinate emergency preparedness between mining entities, local authorities and local populations; and
  • Ensuring that appropriate government departments and agencies at the national, regional and local levels are aware of and prepared to cooperate with mining company response actions.

The IGF’s flagship policy guidance and assessment tool is the Mining Policy Framework (MPF). The MPF lays out international best practices in six key pillars of mining policy and law: the legal and policy environment; financial benefit optimization; socioeconomic benefit optimization; environmental management; mine closure and post-mining transitions; and artisanal and small-scale mining.