The Mining Waste Directive sets up the framework for managing waste from the extractive industry to ensure the long-term stability of disposal waste facilities and prevent or minimise water and soil pollution. With this directive, the European Commission aims to strengthen the waste classification criteria and develop technical guidelines to continuously reduce waste volumes, preventing water and soil pollution from the disposal of the extractive industries.

The European List of Waste ensures a reference terminology for waste at the EU level, and it provides a common encoding in the classification of hazardous wastes. The assignment of waste codes impacts the transport, installation permits, decisions about recyclability or as a basis for waste statistics.

Why is it important?

Addressing waste generation and its management is one of Europe’s priorities. This is particularly crucial as the predicted growth in materials use will likely increase the pressure on multiple value chains and the economy. The European Commission’s Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials intends to address these challenges by mapping the potential of valorising the EU’s former waste streams to identify viable recovery projects for critical raw materials.

The industry’s innovation and research efforts focus on reducing waste generation, improving recyclability, and finding new applications for mineral by-products.

Our views

Whilst waste management plays a key role in the mining of industrial minerals. It is essential to understand that most of these materials are non-hazardous waste, as they are made of naturally occurring elements that do not suffer any chemical transformation during the extractive process. Most of these materials do not require any special conditions for their disposal, which enormously facilitates their use as secondary raw materials and the restoration of extraction sites once operations come to an end.

IMA-Europe has contributed to developing sectorial guidelines on Best Available Techniques (BAT) for the Management of Waste from Extractive Industries (MWEI BREF, 2018) on waste management. 

In addition to participating in regulatory processes, IMA-Europe developed its 2050 Roadmap, acknowledging that waste management is a strategic aspect of the sector during extraction and production steps, actively seeking a reduction of these volumes, and exploring new uses and applications for mined by-products.