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EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

Mr. Chairman,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its 27 Member States.

The last days’ interesting discussions and intensive negotiations on mining prove how important it is to have the CSD approving a robust set of recommendations to Governments on this theme. We do believe that mining can contribute significantly to the fulfillment of sustainable development and poverty eradication. It is therefore particularly opportune to have the UN looking deeply into the issue, 20 years after Agenda 21 has acknowledged the importance of mining for sustainable development.

The EU has set very clear priorities that we believe must be addressed in the political document to be adopted by CSD-19, if we really want to achieve sustainability in mining.

Our first priority is to progressively develop and implement Good Governance in the Mining Sector. A sustainable and well-governed mining sector must effectively collect and deploy resource rents, as well as safe, healthy, gender & ethnically inclusive, environmentally friendly, socially responsible and appreciated by surrounding communities. We would welcome therefore that the UN, working together with Governments that seek to promote economic, environmental and social development through investment in the extractive sector, develops guidelines and best practices covering modern legal and policy environments and mechanisms to promote the development of administrative capacity building, in order to support the development of weak national institutions with poor legal, technical and financial abilities. Guidance on how to foster domestic accountability and promote national appropriate knowledge bases on mineral resources for strategic thinking and policy innovations, while respecting the national sovereignty of the countries is also crucial.

CSD’s strong recommendations to Governments to encourage extractive sector companies and civil society to participate in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), certification initiatives and other relevant self-regulation mechanisms that can contribute to sustainable development and poverty eradication, as well as in relation to the ratification of relevant international agreements dealing with the protection of human rights are also a matter of priority. There is also a need to improve working and living conditions of miners, and to address the issue of children working in mines with the objective to fully eradicate child labour, while protecting livelihoods.

Good Governance in the mining sector requires also financial, economic and social benefit maximization for producing countries. Governments have to support Corporate Social Responsibility undertakings. Tools to improve revenue equitable distribution among States and local vulnerable communities are also required while managing conflicting local and national-level concerns and interests. It is crucial to ensure that a fair share goes to those communities close to and disproportionately affected by a mining operation.

Environment and Natural Resources Management is also a priority issue that the EU wants to have addressed in the outcome document. We believe that more efforts have to be done to increase resource efficiency and reduce waste, notably by increasing recycling/reuse and improving the design of the products, as well as by sustainable water management, protect surface and ground water from contamination and minimize the energy used to produce raw materials and derived products..

The EU considers that it is fundamental to build the eco-systems dimension, integrating biodiversity conservation goals in national mineral extraction plans and that mine closure rehabilitation and post-closure is adequately planned in such a way it restores/enhances biodiversity values affected, as far as possible.

Finally, a broad sustainable framework should be developed or adopted to be applied worldwide to the initial design of waste rock and tailings storage facilities and its management, closure and post-closure, in such a way that these facilities present negligible public health, safety and environmental risks and low social and environmental impacts during operation and post-closure.

Post Mine Transition Period is of the utmost importance, where we believe Governments must provide legal and regulatory frameworks for closure, and have the institutional capacity to monitor and enforce their provisions. Stakeholders must be consulted in the development of closure objectives and plans and a comprehensive closure report and adequate financial assurance have to be provided before the requisite development and permits for a new mine are approved.

On the other hand, it is necessary to focus on the legacies of the past in the form of abandoned and orphan sites of minerals related activity. A broad sustainable framework should be developed to be applied worldwide to the remediation of orphan and abandoned mine sites, in such a way that these sites do not affect public health, safety and the environment, and correct, as far as possible, social impacts.

Bearing in mind the increasing environmental impact of “acid rock drainage”, mainly related to closed mines, the EU believes that this issue deserves particular consideration and we appreciate CSD’s guidance on it.

The EU’s fourth priority on Mining concerns Informal and formal Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM), which must operate according to basic environmental and social standards. Ultimately, policies and development programs are needed to allow for the professionalization and formalization of these activities. Health and educational needs of children in ASM environments deserve special attention. The promotion and support to the formal ASM sector is equally crucial, where policies and regulations have to be drafted to ensure that formal artisanal and small-scale miners are regarded and treated as official members of the national mining industry.

Finally, Markets Transparency in the International Mineral Trade is the EU’s fifth priority that we hope to see included in the final outcome document. In this context, an improvement of the knowledge of the fundamental changes in the global markets that are threatening the principles of competitiveness is important, as well as the promotion of transparency to avoid measures that distort international trade in raw materials. Ensuring access to raw materials from international markets under best possible conditions for all competitors, through enhanced dialogue between producers and consumers that also takes into account the specific interests of Least Developed Countries must also be addressed in this context.

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