Management of waste from extractive industries
The European Union has introduced measures to prevent or minimise any adverse effects on the environment and health arising from the management of waste from extractive industries.
Directive 2006/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on the management of waste from extractive industries and amending Directive 2004/35/EC – Statement by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission
Directive 2006/21/EC introduces measures for safe management of waste resulting from the extraction, treatment and storage of mineral resources and the working of quarries.
A facility operator needs a permit to run an extractive industry waste facility. This Directive lays down the rules for the granting of permits to operators by the authorities designated by each EU country
Authorities must take measures when a new facility is built or an existing one is modified concerning:
its physical stability;
ensuring prevention of soil, air and water pollution;
monitoring and inspection;
facility closure, land rehabilitation and the after-closure phase.
Category A waste facilities
Operators of Category A facilities (which pose particular health and environment risks) must draw up:
a policy for accident prevention and a safety management system;
an internal emergency plan specifying the on-site measures to be taken if an accident occurs.
Classification criteria for Category A facilities are further defined in Decision 2009/337/EC.
National authorities must draw up external emergency plans specifying off-site measures in the event of an accident.
Operators must provide a financial guarantee to ensure that the Directive’s obligations are covered prior to operations beginning. They must also ensure that funding is available for site restoration when a facility closes down.
Decision 2009/335/EC defines technical guidelines for the establishment of financial guaranties.
Operators must draw up a waste management plan that prevents or reduces waste generation, and encourages waste recovery and safe waste disposal. It must be reviewed every 5 years by the authorities.
It must include:
a description of the waste and its characterisation (i.e. its chemical, physical, geological features). Technical requirements for waste characterisation laid down in Annex II of the Directive are elaborated by Decision 2009/360/EC. In addition, Decision 2009/359/EC completes the definition of inert waste;
a description of the substances that process mineral resources and methods used to transport and process the waste;
the control and monitoring procedures;
measures for facility closure and after-closure monitoring;
preventive measures for water and soil pollution.
Authorities must ensure that operators have taken measures to prevent water and soil contamination, in particular by:
evaluating and preventing leachate (i.e. any liquid percolating through the deposited waste, including polluted drainage) generation so that surface water and groundwater can escape waste contamination;
collecting and treating contaminated water and leachate to ensure their discharge.
Regarding the use of cyanide in mineral extraction, the Directive introduces measures aimed at limiting its concentration in tailings ponds and waste waters.
Inspections and reports
The authorities must inspect waste facilities at regular intervals, including after their closure. Operators are required to keep up-to-date records of all operations and to make them available for inspection by authorities. Every 3 years, EU countries must send the European Commission a report on the Directive’s implementation.
Application & Background
From 1 May 2006.
Category A waste facilities: a waste facility is classed as Category A if:
a failure or incorrect operation, e.g. the collapse of a heap or the bursting of a dam, could give rise to a major accident, on the basis of a risk assessment taking into account factors such as the present or future size, the location and the environmental impact of the waste facility; or
it contains waste classified as hazardous (above a certain threshold); or
it contains substances or preparations classified as dangerous (above a certain threshold).
* Tailings ponds: tailings are the waste rock and effluents (some of them chemical, such as cyanide) from the mining process. Tailings are often pumped into ponds to undergo sedimentation where the various solids are separated from the water.
Entry into force
Deadline for transposition in the Member States
OJ L 102, 11.4.2006, pp. 15-34.
Entry into force
Deadline for transposition in the Member States
Regulation (EC) No 596/2009
OJ L 188, 18.7.2009, pp. 14-92.
Commission Decision 2009/335/EC of 20 April 2009 on technical guidelines for the establishment of the financial guarantee in accordance with Directive 2006/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the management of waste from extractive industries (OJ L 101, 21.4.2009, pp. 25-25)
Commission Decision 2009/337/EC of 20 April 2009 on the definition of the criteria for the classification of waste facilities in accordance with Annex III of Directive 2006/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the management of waste from extractive industries (OJ L 102, 22.4.2009, pp. 7-11)
Commission Decision 2009/358/EC of 29 April 2009 on the harmonisation, the regular transmission of the information and the questionnaire referred to in Articles 22(1)(a) and 18 of Directive 2006/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the management of waste from extractive industries (OJ L 110, 1.5.2009, pp. 39-45)
Commission Decision 2009/359/EC of 30 April 2009 completing the definition of inert waste in implementation of Article 22(1)(f) of Directive 2006/21/EC of the European Parliament and the Council concerning the management of waste from extractive industries (OJ L 110, 1.5.2009, pp. 46-47)
Commission Decision 2009/360/EC of 30 April 2009 completing the technical requirements for waste characterisation laid down by Directive 2006/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the management of waste from extractive industries (OJ L 110, 1.5.2009, pp. 48-51)
Important Notice! This website is provided for informational purposes only! It is a fundamental condition of the use of this website that no liability is accepted for any loss or damage caused by reason of any error, omission, or misstatement in its contents.
Draft Articles; The articles on this website are in draft form and are subject to further review for typographical errors and, in some cases, updating and correction. It is intended to include references to the sources of materials and acknowledgements in the final version. The content of articles with [EU] in the title and some of the articles in the section on Agriculture are a reproduction of or are based on European or Irish public sector information.