Improving the Safety of Tailings Management Facilities in the Danube River Basin

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Since March 2019, the ICPDR, in cooperation with the Babes-Bolyai University and the non-governmental organisation, “Sustainable Development Platform”, has been implementing a new project: “Capacity development to improve safety conditions of tailings management facilities in the Danube River Basin – Phase I: North-Eastern Danube countries”.

Tailing management facility next to a body of water

Mining is one of the world’s most traditional industrial sectors, and continues to provide valuable ores and minerals. A significant waste stream however, is generated by these operations. One of the components of mining waste is mining tailings – such things as waste rock and mine water – and this all needs to be stored and handled in tailings management facilities (TMFs). Due to the physical characteristics and chemical nature of substances that can be found in the tailings, TMFs pose risks to both environment and population. Pollution of water bodies and the related risk or damage to environmental resources often has a negative transboundary effect too, and accidents at TMFs may lead to long-term negative and chronic effects.

This project aims to close knowledge gaps while raising awareness of TMFs and their hazards in the Danube River Basin (DRB), ensuring that a common set of minimum standards and safety requirements in the DRB is respected, and strengthening the technical and management capacity relating to these facilities.

The project is accomplishing the following main activities:

  • organising a demonstration regional training event in Romania to deepen the knowledge of invited TMF operators, environmental inspectors and competent authority experts on TMF management;
  • providing recommendations for developing follow-up national training programmes through applying the “train the trainer approach”;
  • improving, completing and promoting a previously developed detailed checklist method based on UNECE “Safety Guidelines and Good Practices for TMFs” to evaluate TMF safety and to recommend measures to improve safety conditions;
  • integrating land use planning aspects into an existing TMF hazard assessment method towards a risk assessment method, taking into account potentially affected populations and water bodies.

The outcomes of the project will be demonstrated and discussed at an international workshop to be held in April 2020 in Vienna, Austria. Experts from the Danube countries, other river basin organisations and the UNECE region will be invited to the workshop, aiming to further promote project outputs and orient it as an example of good transnational cooperation.

This project is funded by the Advisory Assistance Programme of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and supervised by the German Environment Agency.