Answer given by Mr Potočnik on behalf of the Commission
The resolution of the Parliament calling for a general ban on the use of cyanide mining technologies in the European Union has received the full attention of the Commission.
After an in depth analysis of the issue, the Commission considers that a general ban of cyanide in mining activities is not justified from environmental and health point of views. Existing legislation notably on the management of extractive waste (Directive 2006/21/EC(1)) includes precise and strict requirements ensuring an appropriate safety level of the mining waste facilities. The limit values for cyanide storage as defined in the directive are the most stringent possible and implies in practice a destruction step of cyanide used before its storage.
Due to the lack of better (in the sense of causing less impact on the environment) alternative technologies, a general ban on cyanide use would imply the closure of existing mines operating in safe conditions. This would be detrimental to employment without additional environmental and health added value.
The Commission intends to continue to closely follow the possible technological developments in this sector in order to ensure that ‘best available techniques’ are applied in practice as required by the directive.
In addition, the Commission considers that the priority should be set on ensuring full application of the directive by the Member States. As guardian of the Treaty, the Commission intends to take all necessary measures within its remit to ensure that the directive is fully and correctly applied in practice.