MAC: Mines and Communities

International Research Project on Ocean Dumping of Mine Waste Flawed

Published by MAC on 2003-09-22

International Research Project on Ocean Dumping of Mine Waste Flawed

Statement from Miningwatch Canada

22 September 2003

A small group of multinational mining companies, including Canadian-based Inco, Placer Dome, Inmet, and Noranda/Falconbridge have been discussing ways to provide greater scientific support for ocean dumping of mine waste ("Submarine Tailings Disposal" or "STD") since a meeting on this topic in Vancouver in 2001. Recently these mostly behind the scenes discussions have moved into higher gear with the establishment of an International Interim Steering Committee and a research project aimed at providing a "scientific review" of STD.

The Interim Steering Committee is made up primarily of industry representatives, from Placer Dome, Inco, Newmont, Rio Tinto, and Inmet. There are also three research institutions involved: Canada's CANMET (part of the Ministry of Natural Resources), Australia's CSIRO, and the Australian Centre for Mining Environmental Research
(ACMER), which is managing the project. The World Bank is also represented on the steering committee. To date, the project is primarily funded by the mining industry with backing from, among others, Inco, Inmet, and Noranda/Falconbridge.

The Interim Steering Committee, and ultimately the "formal" International Steering Committee overseeing this project, is meant to be "multi-stakeholder" but to date the steering committee has neither managed to established a process nor criteria for NGO selection.

Members of the steering committee have simply been "inviting" NGO representatives they were comfortable with to sit on the steering committee. Following protest from MiningWatch Canada and our partner organizations, JATAM, Project Underground, Walhi, and the Mineral Policy Institute, the interim steering committee is currently establishing criteria and a process for NGO selection. The problem is that two key draft documents have already been produced (a Steering Committee "structure document" and an initial review of literature and issues on STD) and the existing steering committee members are reviewing these documents in the absence of meaningful NGO representation on the steering committee.

Jamie Kneen
Communications Coordinator
MiningWatch Canada
880 Wellington St., Suite 508
Ottawa, Ontario K1R 6K7

ofc. (613) 569-3439
cell: (613) 761-2273
fax: (613) 569-5138

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