Marine and coastal mineral extraction

iStock 1003742798Arctic coastal mining has a long history. Historically, most of these mines discharged their waste rock and tailings into the ocean. The practice of depositing waste rock and tailings from mines into the ocean as well as discharging mining wastewater has the potential to affect the marine environment.

Currently there are few operations that use the ocean for disposal of waste rock and tailings. But where it is taking place or being planned in the Arctic, it employs submarine disposal of tailings (STD) or deep-sea tailings placement (DSTP). The discharge of mining wastewater is more common. There are also placer mining operations planned that consider discharge of waste sediments and water into the ocean.

This project would inventory current Arctic coastal and marine mining operations, with a view to identifying and assessing current practices for marine discharge of mining residuals like waste rock, tailings, sediments, dust and water.

Arctic Mining: Environmental issues, mitigation and pollution control for marine and coastal mining

The project co-leads convened an online workshop for project participants in 2023 as a contribution to this project. The workshop report is available here.

Project objective

The first objective is to take stock of the current and planned Arctic coastal and near shore mining operations and hold a workshop to elaborate on best practices for marine disposal of waste rock, tailings, sediments and water. The second objective is to identify best practices for offshore discharge of mining residuals and prepare a report.

Main activities:

This project will inventory Arctic marine and coastal mining operations and planned operations, and identify practices for offshore discharge of mining residuals including waste rock, tailings, sediments and water.

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