The purpose of the European Commission Guidance on Non-energy mineral extraction and Natura 2000 is to address issues for which the European Commission is responsible. However, the extractive industry has its own guidelines on how to prevent the loss of biodiversity in all areas of operation, some of which go beyond, but do not specifically address, particular requirements of the EU Nature Directives.
This “Guide to the Guide” constitutes part of a Biodiversity Toolkit promoted by Euromines, which is otherwise made up of previously existing documents. It is intended to assist companies in their interpretation of the European Commission Guidance and discussion with permitting authorities and should be read in conjunction with the European Commission Guidance. The Toolkit addresses a broader range of issues concerning extractive industry impacts on biodiversity as follows:
Since 2003 Euromines’ Guidelines on Sustainable Development for the European Extractive Sector have included the commitment to “Promote the conservation of biodiversity and integrated approaches to land use planning”¹ . Euromines is also an associate member of the International Council on Mining & Metals (ICMM) and has contributed directly to the development of the ICMM Good Practice Guidance for Mining and Biodiversity (2006). In 2009, Euromines also produced a book of 101 examples of beneficial mine closure in partnership with the Post-Mining Alliance².
In return, Euromines is actively seeking greater clarity, transparency, consistency and rigour in the processes by which areas of land are managed as part of the Natura 2000 network. The Europe 2020 Strategy, the EU Raw Materials Initiative³ (RMI) and the European Commission Guidance should be used to underline the need to promote increased investment in the EU’s existing natural assets.
In many Member States the process of designating Natura 2000 sites took place in a hurried way, in the absence of any consideration of other land-uses and with more focus on quantity than quality. Therefore, factual demonstration of the biodiversity value of Natura 2000 sites will often be missing and this causes problems related to land-access, mineral planning and environmental assessment in the extractive sector.
Unfortunately, European Commission guidance documents do not necessarily create the legal certainty that extractive companies need to justify expensive exploration projects, baseline studies and impact assessments. It may therefore prove necessary at a later date to integrate elements of the European Commission Guidance into national or provincial legislation.
¹ Access the Sustainable Development Guidelines