Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Extractive waste from mines and quarries

Tailings and extractive waste from mining and quarrying in Scotland and Northern Irelandtailings from mining and quarrying

Managing extractive waste

Your mine or quarry could cause serious damage to the environment and human health if you do not manage your extractive waste properly.

The Mining Waste Directive (MWD) introduced new requirements for managing extractive waste at mines and quarries.

Regulations implementing the MWD in Northern Ireland and Scotland came into force on 1 April 2010. The MWD has been brought into force through the planning system.

Do you have extractive waste at your mine or quarry?

Extractive waste is solid or liquid waste that comes directly from onshore prospecting, extracting, treating and storing minerals and the working of quarries, including:

  • waste rock and overburden removed during extraction
  • tailings, such as waste solids and slurries
  • inert waste and unpolluted soil
  • waste from the peat industry.

Not all material you produce during mineral extraction is waste.

If you do have extractive waste, your obligations will depend on whether your extractive waste is:

  • inert waste
  • non-hazardous non-inert waste
  • hazardous waste.

What you must do if you have an extractive waste site or extractive waste area

An extractive waste site (Northern Ireland) or extractive waste area (Scotland) is any area where you accumulate or deposit extractive waste, including any dam, heap or pond for:

  • six months or less for hazardous waste you generate unexpectedly
  • one year or less for non-hazardous non-inert waste
  • three years or less for inert waste, unpolluted soil, non hazardous prospecting waste and waste from the peat industry.

It does not include any area which is a waste facility. In Northern Ireland, it does not include excavation voids into which waste is replaced, after extraction of the mineral, for rehabilitation and construction purposes.

Apply for planning permission

If you start or continue to operate an extractive waste site (Northern Ireland) or extractive waste area (Scotland) you must have a valid planning permission from your planning authority.

If you produce extractive waste your planning permission will require you to have a waste management plan (WMP). For information on what your WMP must cover, see our guidance on waste management plans.

In Northern Ireland, if an exemption applies to your mine or quarry or your mine or quarry does not produce extractive waste you do not need a WMP but will need to submit a waste management statement to confirm this. For example, an inert waste site may be exempt from the requirement to produce a WMP.

In Scotland, if your extractive waste area was in operation on 1 April 2010 you must have produced a WMP by 1 May 2012 to continue your operations.

Comply with your planning permission

Your planning permission will have conditions which, amongst other things, require you to:

  • comply with your WMP
  • keep up to date records to show that you are complying with your permit and are made available for inspection on request.

Your extractive waste must not:

  • endanger human health
  • harm the environment
  • cause a nuisance from noise or odour at your site
  • affect the landscape or places of special interest near your site.

You must use best available techniques for managing your extractive waste to prevent or reduce damage to your local environment or human health.

What you must do if your mine or quarry has a waste facility

Your mine or quarry has a waste facility if you deposit or accumulate extractive waste at your site:

  • in a Category A (high risk) facility or hazardous waste facility identified in your waste management plan for any period of time
  • for more than six months for hazardous waste you produce unexpectedly
  • for more than one year for non-hazardous non-inert waste
  • for more than three years for inert waste, unpolluted soil, non-hazardous prospecting waste and waste from the peat industry.

Waste facilities at mines or quarries include spoil heaps, tailings, ponds and dams. They do not include voids that have been filled with extractive waste after extraction. For further information on voids, see our guidance on extraction voids.

Apply for planning permission

If you start or continue to operate a waste facility you must have a valid planning permission from your planning authority. Your planning permission will include conditions for managing extractive waste and will require you to have a WMP. For information on what your WMP must cover, see our guidance on waste management plans.

You must also comply with special requirements to prevent major accidents at your site if you have a Category A (high risk) facility. See our guidance on preventing major accidents at Category A facilities.

In Northern Ireland, if you had a valid planning permission for your waste facility on or before 1 April 2010 it is now deemed to include permission for that facility where you have submitted a WMP and that plan has been approved by your planning authority. If you have a Category A facility you must also comply with special requirements to prevent major accidents at your site and arrange for a financial guarantee to be in place for your waste facility by 1 May 2014.

In Scotland, if your mining waste facility was in operation on 1 April 2010 you must have obtained planning permission to continue your operations beyond 1 May 2012. You must also arrange for a financial guarantee to be in place for your waste facility by 1 May 2014. You can use an industry sponsored mutual guarantee fund to provide your financial guarantee.

Comply with planning conditions

You must comply with any conditions in your planning permission about extractive waste or the location, size and shape of spoil heaps and tailings ponds.

Contact your planning authority for further information.

What you must do if you have a Category A or hazardous waste facility

Your mining waste facility is classified as Category A (high risk) facility if:

  • a failure in the structure of a mining waste facility or an incorrect operation at a mining waste facility could cause a major accident, eg where a tip or settlement pond could collapse, or
  • it contains hazardous waste above a certain threshold, or
  • it contains dangerous substances above a certain threshold.

For further information, see the European Community decision on the definition of Category A waste facilities.

European Community: EC Decision 2009/337/EC Definition of the criteria for the classification of Category A waste facilities (Adobe PDF - 730 KB)

Comply with additional requirements

You must have valid planning permission and comply with additional requirements if you have a Category A or hazardous waste facility. For example, if you have a Category < A facility you must comply with requirements to prevent major accidents at your site. See our guidance on preventing major accidents at Category A facilities.

Good practice for managing extractive waste

Position stockpiles on surfaces that have low permeability.

Collect run-off from your extractive waste and treat it prior to discharge. For further information, see our guidance on managing solids .

Compact your extractive waste and check it is physically stable if you put it in an extraction void. For further information, see our guidance on extraction voids.

Design your mining waste facility to prevent pollution and erosion. For example:

  • use hard surfaces or linings to prevent dangerous substances from seeping into the ground
  • use gentle slopes and plant vegetation on heaps and mounds
  • position your mining waste facility away from any areas that could flood.

Comply with the tipping rules to make sure your mining waste facility is stable. For further information on the tipping rules, contact the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland.

HSE: Mining
HSE: Quarries
HSE Northern Ireland: Quarries and mines

Further information on extractive waste in Northern Ireland and Scotland

EU

European Community: EC Decision 2009/359/EC Completing the definition of inert waste (Adobe PDF - 698KB)
European Community: EC Decision 2009/360/EC Completing the technical requirements for waste characterisation (Adobe PDF - 709KB)
EU: BREF document on best available techniques for management of tailings and waste rock in mining activities

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland DOE Planning: Mining Waste Directive
Northern Ireland DOE Planning: Mining waste management plans

Scotland

Scottish Government: Guidance on the management of extractive waste regulations (Scotland) 2010 (PDF 426 KB)

 

SEE ALSO: Mining and quarrying

 

Whats new on NetRegs

  • Waste – Duty of Care Roles and Responsibilities

    The Northern Ireland Environment Agency has published a short guide to the duty of care responsibilities including advice and information for waste producers, carriers and those accepting, storing and treating waste.

    https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/publications/waste-duty-care-responsibilities

  • NetRegs:- FREE, ANONYMOUS, PLAIN ENGLISH GUIDANCE FOR BUSINESSES

  • GPP 24 Stables, Kennels and Catteries

    NEW GPP 24 now available: Stables, Kennels and Catteries

  • EIA (Agriculture) Regulations for Northern Ireland

    Any person intending to alter the use or management of areas of uncultivated or semi-natural land must obtain prior approval from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

    Read more on the DAERA website

  • Guidance from your environmental regulator

    Regulator logos

NetRegs on NetRegs on youTube

View our latest videos & subscribe to our channel.

NetRegs Update Newsletter

Free monthly email newsletter with environmental updates for Northern Ireland and Scotland

Sign up for free today!

Permits

NIEA - Apply online

SEPA - Application forms