RUSMET Mining Sustainability and Chemical Regulation Seminar
Delegates taking part in the RUSMET Business Forum held in the margins of the APEC Ministers Responsible for Mining Meeting (MRM4) in St. Petersburg from the 27-28 June had the opportunity to attend a seminar on Mining Sustainability and Global Chemicals Regulation. The seminar, organized by RUSMET and the Nickel Institute, took place on the 26 June 2012 and focused on the importance of sound-science in chemical regulation as a prerequisite to long-term sustainability of mining and metals use in APEC economies.
APEC's 21 member economies hold the largest metal and mineral reserves globally and account for 70% of total global production. They are also the sector's biggest exporters of minerals and metals.
The event was attended by 66 representatives of national and international organisations and companies, including members of the Nickel Institute. The Seminar was opened by Alexey Vasilievich Pinchuk from the Russian Ministry of Trade and Industry in Russia who stressed the importance of an active dialogue and scientific approach .
Dirk Hudig from the European Risk Forum talked about risk assessment and impact on businesses, highlighting the need for evidence-based legislation. He also referred to the Frontier Economics economic impact assessment done on the EU classification of 138 nickel chemicals, calling it an important piece of work. Hudig urged regulators not to create legislative islands with technical barriers to trade but to have global systems that offer adequate degree of safety for consumers and the workers in industry.
Speaking on the 20-month project commissioned by the APEC Mining Task Force, the Managing Director of Frontier Economics Danny Price said the study aimed to evaluate the role of the nickel value chain in 10 APEC economies and to study the impact of the EU nickel chemicals classifications on the APEC economies. The report concluded that even though shocks are limited as a percentage of GDP, mining economies are more exposed to risk if the stigmatisation of nickel-containing products would lead to significant consequences for some components of the nickel value chain.
MEP Julie Girling from the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee talked at length about risk and the perception of risk. She mentioned that with the information technologies and mass media available, it is important to critically evaluate and analyse all available information. There is a need for an accurate and reliable scientific basis in order to define appropriate actions, she added.
Communicating properly with the public, being transparent, assessing and understanding the risks and making the public central in the decision-making process are all key to a future successful model for better regulation, she said. NGOs and media also have an essential role to play.
Hudson Bates from the Nickel Institute’s science arm NIPERA talked about the evolution of chemical regulation which is based on things learned during the last forty years and used to continually improve the process.
The science of risk assessment, Hudson Bates said, is all about determining how much of a substance is too much and whether or not such exposure is acceptable to the general population. According to Hudson Bates, risk management consists of different stages – first risk analysis is done to identify hazards then calculations are made to determine how likely that risk is. It is then the role of regulators to determine how to manage the risk.
For more on the outcome of the APEC Mining Ministers, see the News article http://nickelinstitute.org/en/MediaCentre/News/APECMiningMinistersMeeting.aspx