Now more than ever: ‘Ban toxic cyanide!’

28/04/2017 2347 views

The European Parliament insists on a cyanide ban in mining

28 April 2017 – In a strong vote with 566 in favor and 8 against the European Parliament has reiterated its call to the European Commission to ban the use of cyanide-based mining in the European Union as soon as possible.

The European Parliament yesterday voted a resolution on the implementation of the Mining Waste Directive (2006/21/EC). It regulates waste management in the extractive industries and was initially adopted eleven years ago, in consequence of the tragic cyanide accident at a gold mining processing site in Baia Mare/Romania in 2000.

The Mining Waste Directive and the way it is implemented by Member States has been the subject of a review carried out by the European Parliament’s environmental committee [1]. Amongst others, it concluded that the practical implementation of the directive’s provisions is problematic.  Importantly, there exist real practical problems with emergency plans (for Category A facilities), as well as with permits and inspections (for all types of facilities, including Category A ones). These two examples alone are extremely relevant since their non-application dramatically increases the risk of mining related activities to human and environmental health.

The resolution adopted by Parliament on 27 April 2017 also highlights the need to reduce the use of primary resources and to instead promote re-use and recycling in view of the EU’s transition to a circular economy.

The mining waste directive came in consequence of the Baia Mare accident. Yesterday’s powerful vote is a confirmation that the directive is dangerously inefficient. If anything, it has been sheer luck rather than adequate safety measures that prevented new accidents. Human and environmental health however, shouldn’t be subjected to luck or chance and that’s why the European Parliament yesterday called on the Commission for a complete ban on the use of cyanide mining technologies in the European Union as soon as possible,” says Roxana Pencea-Bradatan from Mining Watch România.

When refusing to ban cyanide-based mining previously, the European Commission pointed to the mining waste directive; arguing that it will prevent accidents. The report at the base of yesterday’s vote in the European Parliament once and for all confirms that this directive has been ineffective in this respect. There exist no more excuses not to act. Banning cyanide in mining is not only a responsible answer but also a duty in light of the European Parliament’s repeated demand,” concludes Stephanie Roth from the Save Rosia Montana! campaign.

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Notes for editors:

[1] European Parliament resolution of 27 April 2017 on the implementation of the Mining Waste Directive (2006/21/EC) http://bit.ly/2oSEm27 and yesterday’s voting result (A8-0071/2017) http://bit.ly/2pCZcGP