The modern gold mining industry in Europe has nothing to do with the past practice. In each step of the process, from the extraction to processing and production of gold bars, liable methods are being used which must comply with the very high European standards that have been set for the enhancement of the safety and for the environmental protection.

Particularly, the modern gold mines in Europe, whether they are still under construction or those that are already fully operating, they use the approved by the EU Best Available Techniques.

These techniques have been described in a Reference Document has been adapted by the European Commission and is in accordance with the basic, for extractive industry, Directive 2006/21/EC for the management of

(“Mining Waste Directive” 2006/21/EC). These result in the use of the most effective and advanced methods and technologies in mining and mineral processing as well as in the hydrometallurgical or pyrometallurgical processes for the production of the final product. In this way, every modern exploitation of gold in the European Union, is a subject to a set of comprehensive and strict regulations that determine all the aspects of production in order to ensure the implementation of rules for a Sustainable Development, a Development of all member states that have such particular activities. Specifically:

 

  • Each project Development-exploitation of gold, should prepare a fully comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in accordance with the Directive on “ environmental impact assessment of project implementation (EIA)”, in order to assess in detail the impact that will have the activity to the environment and the potential to deal, minimize and undo it. These studies are brought in to the attention of the local communities and to any party that has interest or is being involved to, and according to the Aarchus agreement they are given the opportunity to express their comments, opinions or their complete disagreement with the proposed project. All these opinions are taken seriously into account by the licensing authorities and they are included in the decisions for approval for environmental conditions (A.E.C), which ultimately decides whether the licensing authority will approve the project.
  • In each project for development-exploitation of gold, should include in the EIA specific studies by the responsible for the waste management of the mining wastes, according to the corresponding European Mining Waste Directive. According to the Directive, each party for the development-exploitation of gold, should undertake a study for mining waste management which should meet the strict requirements that are set by the directive, so that the management of the extracted wastes and the facilities where they are proposed to be placed will be completely safe for the health and the environment. These conditions include, among others, the following:

-Appropriate measures in order to protect from possible failures the construction and the operation of the facilities for the wastes of the project.

-Accurate management plans that will describe the way that extractive wastes will be handled, aiming towards, their best management, reducing their deposits, reuse and recycling where this is possible and finally the restoration of the area after the operation is being ended.

– Development of a plan for the prevention, handling and reporting of serious accidents (accidents that could result in loss of human life or could cause serious damage to the environment) from failure of the waste facilities.

-Obligation of recovery of waste facilities when the mine will no longer operate, based on the decisions for the Approval of Environmental Conditions (A.E.C)

-Strict framework to safeguard the environment and restoration of the operating areas of waste facilities, after the end of the exploitation, such as compliance and serious commitment, care and monitoring of the restored sites, after the closure of the site.

-Inspection from the State in order to ensure that the conditions under which the project was licensed during its operation.

-Payment of a financial guarantee for the compliance with the approved conditions for the reinstatement and the environmental protection, which should be submitted before the initiation of the exploitation.  This works as a guarantee for the State in order to be able, even if the operator ceases to exist, to fulfill his obligations that have arise from the A.E.C. This includes not only the restoration of the mining area after the end of the operation, but also the obligations for care.

  • Mining exploitations, including those of gold, must comply with all European environmental directives, which should be proved through the ongoing Environmental Impact study. Basic instructions concerning the mining industry is the Water Framing Directive as well as the Environmental Liability Directive which imposes liability regime in the event of environmental damage or imminent threat of destruction of the environment from the operations of the mining facilities.

 

SOURCE: “GOLD: HISTORY, ART, SCIENCE, ECONOMY, ENVIRONMENT” A.M.E 2013