The Division of Sustainable Development and Human Settlements (DDSAH) and the Division of Natural Resources (DRN) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) organized, together with the Ministries of Environment and Water and of Mining and Metallurgy of Bolivia, the Federal Institute of Geosciences and Natural Resources of Germany (BGR) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the expert workshop “From traditional mining to sustainable mining: an integral approach”, in the framework of the regional cooperation program for the sustainable management of mining resources in the Andean countries (MinSus/GIZ/BGR).
The event took place on May 30 and 31 in La Paz, Plurinational State of Bolivia, and brought together stakeholders from the mining industry in the Andean region, including government agencies, civil society, trade associations, mining companies, and academia.
Mining activities, in addition to reporting the maximum social and economic benefits, must effectively internalize the social and environmental impacts they generate, even after their closure. Therefore, the workshop had the objective of discussing and exchanging knowledge about the experiences and good practices existing in the region, as well as about the challenges and gaps to be faced.
The inauguration of the workshop was given by Achim Constantin, Director of the MINSUS-BGR project in Germany; José Schulz, Head of Mission of the German Embassy in Bolivia; Magín Herrera López, Vice Minister of the Environment, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Forest Management and Development; Víctor Arancibia, Director General of the Environment and Public Consultation of Bolivia; Mauricio Pereira, DDSAH/CEPAL official; and José Luis Lewinsohn, Official of the DRN/ECLAC. In the opening speeches, they agreed that promoting dialogue around issues such as mining sustainability standards, circular economy, tailings reuse, mine closure and mining environmental liabilities can be a driver of transformative changes with equity and sustainability for the region. andean.
In the two days of the workshop, more than 70 people participated in person and nearly 100 virtually (through the Zoom platform). Representatives associated with mine closure areas and mining environmental liabilities from five countries in the region were present: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru.
Representatives of the Ministry of Mining of Argentina participated; the Ministry of the Environment and Water (MMAyA), the Ministry of Mining and Metallurgy (MMM) and the Geological and Mining Service (SERGEOMIN) of Bolivia; from the Environmental Evaluation System (SEA), the Superintendency of the Environment (SMA) and the National Geology and Mining Service (SERNAGEOMIN) of Chile; from the Ministry of the Environment, Water and Ecological Transition (MAAE) and the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MINEM) of Ecuador; and the Geological, Mining and Metallurgical Institute (INGEMMET) and the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MINEM) of Peru. In addition, officials from the DRN and DDSAH of ECLAC were present; MINSUS-GIZ/BGR of the German Cooperation; Los Rosales Accumulation Mining Society of Peru; and United Nations Development Program (Bolivia headquarters).
The workshop was structured around five sessions. The first module “Mining Sustainability Standards” moderated by Achim Constantin, Director of the MINSUS-BGR project, included the participation of Martin Kohout from DDSAH/CEPAL, who presented the current panorama and future prospects for the promotion of mining sustainability. . Next, Cristina Muñoz, Technical Advisor of the GIZ Program, presented on mining sustainability standards. In her interventions, the experts and officials highlighted the importance of promoting and respecting environmental criteria throughout the life cycle of mining projects and the proactive involvement of local communities, including indigenous peoples.
In the module called “Circular Economy: Institutions, policies and implementation gaps” three cases will be presented. The first, “The circular economy in Latin America and the Caribbean”, by Mauricio Pereira, ECLAC official. The second, “The circular economy in Peruvian mining”, was in charge of Dolfer Julca, a former ECLAC consultant. Then, Andreé Henríquez (remotely), Executive Director of the Technological Center for Circular Economy, Chile, shared the experience: Five critical socio-technological niches, circular economy.
This module highlighted that the circular economy generates productive transformation processes and creates economic, social and environmental opportunities. In addition, it was highlighted that circular economy practices are not alien to mining operations, as they offer opportunities to minimize and add value to waste, improve efficiency at each production stage, and recover mining sites for future production purposes.
May 30 closed with the module “Circular economy practical cases”, moderated by Orlando Reyes, an official from the DRN-ECLAC, and three experts on the subject participated. Grecia Pérez de Arce, Senior Consultant in Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Mining in Chile, gave a keynote speech on the potential use of mine tailings in the case of Chile. Achim Constantin, Director of the MinSus-BGR Program, presented on the activities of the BGR Project in the Andean countries and the research on the recovery of gold in abandoned tailings of La Ciénaga, Pataz, Peru. Finally, Oliver Huaman, General Director of the mining company Acumulación Los Rosales del Perú, presented a paper entitled “Reuse of tailings in Los Rosales, Puno, Peru.”
This panel pointed out that, in the context of the circular economy, mining activities should not only develop their extractive processes by anticipating negative externalities to the environment and to the societies they generate, but also creating innovative solutions at each production stage, which allow reduce mining consumption of water, energy and raw materials. In addition, mining projects must ensure that the waste generated is reused at the end of operations.
On Wednesday, May 31, three modules were held that dealt with, on the one hand, the management of mine closures and national cases, and, on the other hand, the management of mining environmental liabilities.
In the first modules, “Mine closure management”, the regional vision of the closure of mines in the Andean countries was presented and was in charge of José Luis Lewinsohn, official of the DRN-CEPAL. Next, Ana Luisa Morales, ECLAC Consultant, presented the Mine Closure Guide for the Andean region. Two purposes of this guide stood out. First, that it be a useful and guiding management tool for governments to improve the planning and implementation of the closure of operations, mines or mining deposits. Second, that it deliver minimum guidelines required for governments and mining owners, so that the legacy they leave to the present and future community is positive and a successful closure of mining operations is achieved. After the presentations, a dialogue was opened with representatives of countries in the region: Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and Peru, to address the challenges and national experiences regarding mine closure management.
The next module, “Mining Environmental Liabilities Management”, was carried out in two blocks. In the first block, Mauricio Pereira, ECLAC official, presented the vision of the management of environmental liabilities for Latin America and the Caribbean. Next, Carol Liliana Choqueticlla Michaga, Head of the Environment Unit, of the Ministry of Mining and Metallurgy of Bolivia, gave a presentation on the vision of the management of mining environmental liabilities in Bolivia.
In the second block, three case studies were presented. First, Ana María Aranibar, ECLAC consultant, presented the Bolivian case: Guidelines and strategies for the management of mining environmental liabilities. For his part, Achim Constantin, Director of the MinSus-BGR Program, gave a presentation entitled “Turning mining legacies into opportunities: challenges and examples of good practices.” Finally, Guillermo Guzmán, professor and consultant for UNDP Bolivia, presented the study on the search for PAM by means of satellites.
This module delivered the experiences of countries and organizations in the management of environmental liabilities. Additionally, a tool for the satellite identification of mining environmental liabilities in Bolivia was presented, strengthening the knowledge and technical tools of the attendees.
On June 1 and 2, field visits were made to the Milluni area and to the Colquiri mining company. On June 1, the Milluni area, an abandoned tin and zinc mining site without a formal closure, was visited to learn about the consequences on the ecosystems and local social fabric that environmental liabilities carry and that the authorities must face . On June 2, a visit to the Colquiri mining company was carried out to learn about its mining activities and the technologies currently used for prospecting, exploration, exploitation, processing of concentrates and the commercialization of minerals and metals, particularly tin and zinc.
The representatives of the participating institutions confirmed their interest in continuing the collaboration to advance in the strengthening of capacities and in regional cooperation around the sustainable management of mining resources in the Andean countries.