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Program EU LIFE a těžba nerostných surovin

Program EU LIFE a těžba nerostných surovin
LIFE and raw materials: sustainable benefits for EU extraction industries

The extraction of raw materials can create numerous environmental problems and a wide variety of different LIFE projects have been taking proactive steps to help the EU’s extraction industry to reduce impacts from mining and quarry related activities.

It is an established fact of life that raw materials remain essential for the sustainable functioning of today’s European economy, and society. Up to 30 million EU jobs are considered dependent on raw materials like construction aggregates, metallic elements and industrial minerals. These essential natural resources play a crucial role in providing products that meet the needs of modern society, but the extraction processes associated with the supply of such valuable resources can have detrimental environmental impacts.

Impacts related to dust, noise, vibration and traffic can all affect local areas where mining and extraction takes place. Landscape, ecology and biodiversity impacts are also notable consequences of raw material supply chains. The challenges involved in ensuring environmentally sustainable supplies of raw materials for the EU economy are therefore multiple, complex, and often interrelated.

The EU’s raw material initiative recognises these challenges. Launched in November 2008, the Commission initiative promotes actions in Member States that include reducing consumption of primary raw materials, increasing resource efficiency and encouraging more recycling. It also promotes the exchange of best practices in land use planning and notes the importance of reconciling extraction activities located in or near Natura 2000 areas with environmental protection.

Natura 2000

(photo: LIFE04 TCY/RL/000040) (photo: LIFE04 TCY/RL/000040).

The implementation of the Natura 2000 legislation is of particular relevance for the EU’s extractive industry, but concerns have been raised about the sometimes competing objectives between the protection of Natura 2000 areas and the development of extractive activities in Europe. In response to these concerns, the Commission will soon be publishing new dedicated guidance for non-energy extracting industries (NEEI) on the implementation of the Natura 2000 Habitats Directive.

The guidance will feature examples of best practice approaches to the management of Natura 2000 sites and conservation of biodiversity. A wide variety of good practices exists around Europe and an interesting collection of these were showcased recently during European Minerals Day, which this year paid special attention to biodiversity topics.

Some 14 different biodiversity case studies were highlighted with aims to underscore the EU minerals sector’s commitment to supporting biodiversity. LIFE project activities were included in the case studies and LIFE has made some important contributions to improving the environmental sustainability of raw material extraction activities.

LIFE actions

Many of the LIFE project actions in this area relate to mines, quarries and gravel pits. A small selection of interesting examples includes:

  • The UK’s LIFE04 ENV/GB/000820 project, where specialised composting treatments have been applied to restore former quarry locations;
  • Austria’s LIFE00 NAT/A/007053 project, where river management works allowed for sustainable extraction of gravel aggregates;
  • Lebanon’s LIFE04 TCY/RL/000040 project, which helped to improve opportunities for rehabilitating mineral extraction sites in the Middle East;
  • Greece’s LIFE03 ENV/GR/000213 project, which demonstrated innovative and cost-effective pollution control methods for refilling open pit mines using red mud; and
  • Germany’s LIFE03 NAT/D/000007 project that converted gravel pits into bird habitats.
  • ZDROJ: EU Life
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