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2020 / 2021 Edition

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New industry guidance on mineral waste

WITH the first round of permit applications due under the Mining Waste Directive (MWD) at the end of this year, the CBI Minerals Group has published a new guide to help minimize the burden on mineral operators.

Prepared in discussion with the Environment Agency, the guide will provide operators with a practical means of deciding whether materials such as soils and overburden arising during the course of mineral extraction and processing operations are extractive waste and thus require permitting.

From the outset, the CBI Minerals Group has held the view that all soils, overburden and similar materials extracted during the winning and working of minerals, and used for the landscaping or restoration of the site, are not waste and therefore do not come within the scope of the MWD.

This was not a view initially shared by Defra and the Environment Agency but, following a robust submission to them by the Group, it has now been accepted that such materials are ‘non-waste by-products’ and, therefore, fall outside the scope of the Directive.

Nevertheless, mineral operators are still required to demonstrate to the Environment Agency, on a case-by-case basis, that materials are not extractive waste, and therefore the Minerals Group has published the new guide to provide a practical means of deciding whether materials generated in the course of mineral extraction are not waste and thus do not require permitting.

Use of the guide is expected to reduce the administrative burden for mineral operators quite considerably, because having been through a ‘one-off’ exercise, with the Environment Agency, of agreeing that their material is not waste, that should be the end of any further contact on the matter.

Commenting on the publication of the guide, CBI Minerals Group chairman Nigel Jackson said: ‘We have worked tirelessly to ensure that soils, overburden and similar materials are not categorized as extractive waste, and this guide will provide a pragmatic way to minimize the number of sites that will require permitting and will go some way to reduce the burden on an already over-regulated industry.’

A copy of the new guide can be downloaded from: www.cbi.org.uk/minerals

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