Proposed Environmental Standards in iron ore mining industry
It is recognised that minerals and metals are the mainstay of the economic development and welfare of the society. However, their exploration, excavation and mineral processing directly infringe upon and affect the other natural resources like land, air, water, flora and fauna, which are to be conserved and optimally utilised in a sustainable manner. To protect the environment, mining sector in general, is regulated by the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, the Forest
Conservation Act, 1980, the MMRD Act 1957, Wild life Act, 1972, Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and Air (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, etc.
In order to protect the environment from iron ore mines, environmental standards specific for Indian Iron Ore Mines are being proposed under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. The proposed standards are primarily based on the studies conducted, normal background information, (collected through actual site monitoring during the mines visit and collected from different mining authorities and regulatory bodies), comparison and evaluation of national and international standards as well as the presence of different harmful elements and their likely health effect. There is not much precedence of existing iron ore mine specific environmental standards, internationally. Only USEPA has specified the discharge standards for iron ore crusher mining, whereas the same is covered by Canada through a blanket standard for all the metalliferous mines. World Bank has issued certain guidelines on pollution limits for air, water and noise. The details of proposed environmental standards for air, water & noise quality and guidelines for pollution prevention & control are discussed in Section – 6. Proposed environmental standards specific to Indian Iron Ore Mines for air, water & noise quality are as follows;
Proposed Emission Standards
In iron ore mining & other allied activities including processing of ore, dust is the single largest air pollutant and can be a significant nuisance to surrounding land users as well as a potential health risk in some circumstances. Dust is being produced from a number of sources and through number of mechanisms such as land clearing, removal of top soil, overburden removal, drilling, blasting, crushing & screening, processing of ore, loading & unloading of material on site & subsequent transport off the site etc. In addition to this, wind action affecting stockpiles, dry tailings and exposed mining areas also generate significant amount of dust. Various types of dust control measures i.e. dust extraction and / or dust suppression measures have been adopted by the Indian iron ore mines.
In order to maintain the air quality in and around the iron ore mines, all the high dust prone areas need to be equipped with dust extraction and / or dust suppression facilities. The dust levels in the mines mainly depend on the type of dust control measures adopted & its effectiveness. The dust levels also depend on the nature ore feed, method of mining & ore processing, topography & climatic conditions of the area etc. Keeping in view of all these factors, air quality standards specific to Indian Iron Ore Mines have been proposed for both point and area sources.