Jones, H 2010, 'Environmental compliance', in R Jewell & AB Fourie (eds), Proceedings of the First International Seminar on the Reduction of Risk in the Management of Tailings and Mine Waste
, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 309-317, https://doi.org/10.36487/ACG_rep/1008_27_Jones
The Macquarie dictionary defines ‘compliance’ as ‘1. An act of conforming; acquiescing, or yielding.
2. base subservience.’ Does environmental compliance mean yielding to environmental forces, or does it
mean being subservient to a human perception of the environment?
How ‘environmental compliance’ may be defined by the various stakeholders in the mining industry,
companies, governments and communities is considered in the light of their possible objectives in requiring
Examples of potentially conflicting environmental requirements in waste management are considered,
particularly operational requirements such as minimal dust generation versus completion environmental
compliance requirements of establishing a self-sustaining ecosystem or geomorphologically stable landform.
Mechanisms available to establish standards for determining if environmental compliance has been attained
are described. These include guidelines (company and government), which can range from detailed (tailings
construction) to broad and general (closure strategies); codes of practice, Ministerial conditions and
regulations are discussed. Some of the strengths and weaknesses these mechanisms are described, using
examples from industry experience.
The site specific nature of most mine waste management operations means that one approach cannot fit all
situations and the fairness of having a solution acceptable in one operation, but not in another is discussed.
Does strict compliance with a human perception of the environment and how it functions promote a ‘lowest
common denominator’ approach? The potential technology restricting aspects of requiring ‘compliance’ is
discussed and the alternative compliance requirements of ‘‘outcome’ compliance and ‘process’ compliance
The time frame for assessing environmental compliance is discussed. The potential use of simulation models
as potential tools for assessing future environmental performance is considered. Moreover, it is concluded
that ‘environmental compliance’ means conforming to the environment rather than simply acquiescing or
yielding to man-made ‘rules’.
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Environmental compliance H. Jones
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