REACH and Classification & Labelling in the Mining Industry

International Mining & Minerals Association
,
6 May 2009


The imminent and profound effects of REACH legislation and Classification & Labelling regulations on the European mining industry were discussed at a recent workshop in London.  REACH – the Registration, Evaluation & Authorisation of Chemicals - which has been in force in the EU since 2008, provides legislation for the production, use and transportation of all chemical substances within and imported into the EU.  The Classification & Labelling (C&L) of all substances is part of the Globally Harmonised System (GHS), which is applicable to virtually all materials and is a UN initiative. Currently there are significant differences in the requirements for different countries. 

 

So far, Mineral Ores and Concentrates (O&Cs) have not had to be registered under REACH, as they have been defined as not chemically altered from the natural state.  Notwithstanding this definition, from 1st  December 2010, O&Cs will be subject to C&L under EU law.  The EU has established ECHA, the European Chemicals Agency, to administer the system and there are legal and financial consequences of the legislation for mining companies operating within Europe, or importing ores and concentrates into Europe.

A workshop entitled: “Classification of Ores & Concentrates” was held in London on 1st May 2009.  The purpose of this one-day meeting was to develop a common approach and strategy for the mining industry.  It was convened by Euromines, the Brussels-based organisation that represents the interests of the mining companies relating to Europe, together with the International Council on Mining & Metals, ICMM.  The workshop was part of the ICMM Biennial Members Meeting, which took place from 27 April to 1 May 2009 at the Institution of Civil Engineers, with an impressive delegate list from the international mining industry and related organisations.

The workshop was attended by over 30 delegates.  Major mining companies were well represented, with Anglo American, Rio Tinto, Vale and Sumitomo Metals, each sending more than one delegate.  Boliden, Glencore, Lundin, Inmet, Arcadis and European Goldfields were also present.  The metal producer organisations were represented: for copper – ECI; zinc – IZA; lead – ILA; aluminium – IAI; molybdenum – IMA; and tin – ITRI. The meeting was jointly chaired by Corina Hebestreit of Euromines and Sue Hubbard of Rio Tinto. 

The presentations given were:

1.    Background and objectives – Ilse Schoeters, Rio Tinto Minerals

2.    Substance ID cards for ores & concentrates – Johannes Drielsma, Euromines

3.    Consequences of classification – Petros Maraboutis

4.    Testing Options –Katrien Delbeke, European Copper Institute

5.    Generic guidance on how to classify – Dagobert Heijerick, Arcadis Europe

These papers will be circulated to workshop delegates in due course.

There was discussion during the meeting to define a way forward to manage conformance with REACH and the Classification and Labelling requirements within the EU and for GHS.  It is clear the major mining companies have established high level working groups to achieve these objectives.  All mining and concentrate-producers operating in, or trading with Europe will need to become familiar with the extensive and complex requirements.  There is only limited time remaining, especially if testing is necessary. Information is available and a good starting point is the web sites of Euromines and ICMM, www.euromines.org and www.icmm.com.