Moscow, 7-10 September 1999

The Third World Mining Environment Congress was held in Moscow on 7-10 September 1999. It was organized by the National Mining Research Center Skochinskii Institute of Mining with the financial support from the Ministry of Fuel and Energy of the Russian Federation (Mintopenergo of Russia) and the Ministry of Science and Technologies of the Russian Federation and with the organizational assistance of the Department of geology, geophysics, geochemistry and mining sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Committee for the Coal Industry with Mintopenergo of Russia.

The Congress sessions were attended by more than three hundred participants managers from ministries and government agencies of Russia, members of the Russian Academy of Sciences, scientists of a number of leading Academy and branch scientific research institutions and specialists from production plants of Russia, Germany, Poland, France, Great Britain, China, Romania, Slovenia, Estonia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Kirghizia.

The Third Congress recognizes great importance for the humankind of the forthcoming stage of its development, at which people will get knowledge and become the community of economically and ecologically interacting members. Reasoning from the above one can state that the current global ecological problem is the one for the entire civilized community.

Over recent years the problem of human habitat protection, i.e., the prevention of the irreversible alteration of the composition and characteristics of all the components of the biosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere, has acquired rather high social, economic and engineering importance. Of particular importance is the problem of maintaining the characteristics and composition of the atmosphere as the most sensitive life-support system on the Earth.

          A.-T. Pihlak (National Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysics, Tallinn, Estonia), E. A. Yelchaninov
(State Mining University, Moscow, Russia), and N. G. Matviyenko (Institute of Complex Development of Mineral Resources)

It is high time to assess the effect of the production activity of man on environment, such as the alteration of characteristics and composition of the atmosphere resulting from intensive emission of various gases, on the modification of the water balance and water characteristics, as well as on the disturbance of the planet surface and soils, as well as other harmful effects.

Large-scale ecological problems are rather typical of the mining industry. The share of solid primary materials (coal, metal ores, non-metallic solid minerals, construction materials) accounts for 80 % of the total mining output. Today, the annual output of primary materials and mine stone excavated in the process of underground and surface mining exceeds 60 billion metric tons.

Nearly all the countries possess mining operations, therefore ecological problems must become a concern of the whole world. Only mutual efforts geared at the problem elimination will bring success. Ecological relations affect both national and international interests. Regulation of these relations must be aimed accordingly at the conservation of the economic importance of mineral resources, as a significant life-support system, and their ecological function, with due account for the fact that mineral resources present a part of the natural environment.

The Third World Mining Environment Congress emphasizes that top priority objectives in the elimination of ecological problems are as follows: development of the up-to-date legal and regulatory documents, reliable methods of forecast and ways for the prevention of harmful effects of mineral mining and processing, as well as the establishment of industrial regional ecological monitoring.

Low efficiency of analytical grounds and forecasts is determined by the lack of coordinated research and sufficient data, as well as reasonable exchange of experience that contributes to the spread of ecological hazards, particularly in contiguous regions.

Special attention must be attached to the application of forecast methods and preventive measures of mineral resources conservation and banning of uncontrolled extraction of minerals, rocks, gases, water and other components, since it could result in the disturbance of the state, characteristics and structure of the bowels as a whole. Uncontrolled exploitation of mineral resources may disturb the existing equilibrium in the Earth's crust, and it will negatively affect the environment. Therefore, the transition of the natural arrangement of mineral resources to a new, technogenic and ecologically acceptable arrangement at the stage of their development must be considered an indispensable condition of ecological security provision.

The papers presented at the Congress show the results achieved and the ways to solve the main ecological problems. In a number of papers dealing with the general ecological problems and engineering methods and equipment for environment protection the analysis is given of the qualitative and quantitative indicators of the negative environmental effect produced by mining operations, and information is presented about local technological approaches, which improve ecological indices.

The papers also describe methods of the health analysis of the population of mining areas and safety and labour protection measures in surface and underground mineral mining, processing and transportation, and waste utilization problems.

One should emphasize the extreme importance of the ecological aspect of mineral deposit development in the Northern regions of different countries. The intensive broad-scale mineral mining in the Northern regions must be oriented towards the formation of reasonable strategy of the economy restructuring with the maximum possible conservation of the existing dynamic equilibrium of particularly sensitive natural systems and ecological security of the population.

The participants of the Congress believe that the current attitude to mineral resources development assumes the necessity for continuous efforts aimed at the conservation of their utility through the controlled utilization of all the variety of georesources and comprehensive development of mineral resources and establishing of multifunction mining operations.

Recommendations of the Congress

  • To recommend to the participating and other countries with the mining industry to concentrate their effort on the following scientific and practical problems:
    • to establish a financial mechanism for attracting state and extra-budgetary funds to support the ecology related investigations and nature conservation and nature restoration measures;
    • to continue mutual developments and coordination of norms, standards and design documents that regulate the use of safe and ecologically clean technologies in mineral mining, processing and conversion and admissible levels of gas and dust emission to the atmosphere, as well as the methods and facilities for water purification;
    • to continue development and application of automatic systems of ecological monitoring in mining regions and adjacent areas;
    • to work on the specific comprehensive engineering and technological problems of mining operations;
    • to make technological processes of mineral mining and processing ecologically clean to maximize the nature protection and resource-saving potential of mining and processing operations;
    • to proceed with the development of waste utilization technologies with their commercial application.

  • To set up a permanent Organizing Committee of the representatives of participating countries and experts from other leading mining countries for coordination of work and exchange of information on legal and regulatory issues of ecology, primarily, in mining regions. To entrust the NMRC Skochinskii Institute of Mining with carrying out the necessary consultations with the participating countries and working out measures for this recommendation fulfillment. It is advisable to register the permanent Organizing Committee with the UNO and to request the UNO for financial support to joint projects.

  • To order the Congress Organizing Committee to establish contacts with international agencies and establishments including the Secretariat of the UN Frame Convention on Climate Changes, with the government bodies, national ecological research centers and industrial companies with the aim of coordination and realization of ecological projects.

  • The III World Mining Environment Congress considers as necessary to recognize great importance of the first Russian Concept of the state strategy of ecological security in development of mineral resources. This Concept, as a document of Federal importance, represents a comprehensive approach to the development of the national programme aimed at the elimination of environmental problems in mining. To circulate the Draft Concept as an official Congress document.

  • To recommend to Mining Universities to establish training courses in ecology for mining engineers, to exchange training programmes, professors, students and post-graduate students.

  • To support the proposal of the Congress participant from Estonia on taking stock and monitoring of the atmospheric oxygen consumption at mining operations.

  • To confirm the necessity of organizing the World Mining Environment Congresses every two years and to propose to the Romanian delegation to study the opportunity of holding the next Congress in 2001 in Romania.