Michael Burnside: “Mining can be compatible with environment”

24.03.2014 | 14:34 Home / News / Articles /

Michael Burnside is a consulting geologist, mineral examiner, owner of Mineral Lands Consulting LLC. He was an Assistant Director of Minerals and Geology Management in Washington DC from 2003 to 2005, and led the U.S. Forest Service’s hard rock mining, abandoned mine lands, national minerals training, and the geology and ground water programs.

Michael Burnside arrived in Yerevan to take part in “Responsible Mining in Armenia: Opportunities and Challenges” international conference that will be held on March 25-26.

- Tomorrow you will be taking part in "Responsible Mining in Armenia: Opportunities and Challenges” international conference. What do you know about mining in Armenia?

- I came here to learn more about mining of Armenia and also share experience with you about mining in USA.

I am looking forward to the conference, where I will meet ministry officials. One of the things I will advice them, will be that our experience shows that mining is very important. We can’t really have a society without mining, as it’s very important for economies. But it needs to be done right and it can be done right. In past during mining regulations we made mistakes as a country, but we also learnt from those mistakes. I hope we can share this experience during the conference. I would like to note, that it’s good to have a law that stresses the issues of environmental responsibilities, but to be part of it, you also need to implement that law properly.

This means to have trained inspectors, operate environmental standards, so everybody knows what the rules are and make sure that those standards are met.

It’s not fair to have different standards for different companies. And when everyone knows what the rules are, it’s easier for companies to plan forward. And to be part of that in our experience is by having transparency - to be open in the process, to tell what the project is, what its details are, how it is analyzed, what are the environmental issues and how can we address those issues.

In the United States we have financial assurance or bonding. This means that before approving any project, we calculate what are the costs to reclaim it. If the company disappears tomorrow, we will need to reclaim it, and we do it in details - how much it will cost to move the dirt, how much it will cost to treat the water, and we require the company to provide that money up front, as a part of permission to let them do mining.

- What is your short definition of "Responsible Mining Company” term?

- Responsible mining company is the one that is sensitive to the needs of the local community, realizes that they operate through social promotion of the people of Armenia. And to be a good user of the land they need to follow Armenian laws. Responsible mining company would have leaders who would be environmentally sensitive, aware of those issues. Also the one that wouldn’t necessarily need the laws to follow the environmental traditions and make sure that the way they leave the land after mining is done is productive, so after it the land can still be used for other purposes.

- Many environmental groups in Armenia believe that mining and nature are “non-compatible” and they are urging the Government and foreign investors to cancel existing operations and not provide license for new mines. What is the best way to address such concerns and to show that modern mining can actually be compatible with environment?

- We have standards that prove mining can be compatible with environment. Standards have to be met and if standards are not met on water quality and on protecting environment, then the mining activities will not be permitted. Standards are part of those rules but also implementation is an important factor. Inspectors must make sure that the rules are being followed. Assurance is not a one time thing, it needs consistency.

- Some mining companies in Armenia have international financial institutions among their shareholders - such as IFC or EBRD. Those institutions have very strict environmental standards - do you think this is a “guarantee” for preserving the environment and bio-diversity in countries where they operate?

- It helps, but again someone, perhaps the financial institutions or the Armenian government needs to monitor the process to make sure they follow the rules, but having these rules up front is good. We just need to follow them throughout. It is the same as the speed limit. You can say there is a law, so don’t drive in a high speed, but at the same time you also need a policeman to make sure that no one breaks the law.  

Michael Burnside was interviewed by Narine Daneghyan.

Views 4474
Կարծիքներ

Հարգելի այցելուներ, այստեղ դուք կարող եք տեղադրել ձեր կարծիքը տվյալ նյութի վերաբերյալ` օգտագործելուվ Facebook-ի ձեր account-ը: Խնդրում ենք լինել կոռեկտ եւ հետեւել մեր պարզ կանոներին. արգելվում է տեղադրել թեմային չվերաբերող մեկնաբանություններ, գովազդային նյութեր, վիրավորանքներ եւ հայհոյանքներ: Խմբագրությունն իրավունք է վերապահում ջնջել մեկնաբանությունները` նշված կանոնները խախտելու դեպքում:



Smartclick.ai