Mining is one of the oldest industrial sectors in many countries that is of significant economic importance (OECD, 2019). As a result, the emphasis of mining policies in many countries in the world to date has focused mainly on the industrial and economic contributions of the mining industry (Amezaga and Kroll, 2005). However, mining industries create severe environmental problems by discharging waste in the form of solid, liquid and gaseous emissions (Wiertz, 1999; Chan et al., 2008; Ndlovu et al., 2017). Therefore, with a view of protecting the environment due to the production of waste from mining industries, regulations and policies have been enacted to control the disposal and/or recycling of mining and metallurgical wastes (Ndlovu et al., 2017). At the moment, governments have responsibilities to protect human health and the environment from the harmful effects of mining, including mitigating potential adverse impacts of acid mine drainage (AMD) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2016). It must be noted, however, that various countries have developed different approaches for managing AMD, or mining waste, in general, which differ both in the legislative scope and effectiveness (Kumar and Singh, 2013; Ndlovu et al., 2017). This chapter discusses legislation governing the management of AMD for a selected number of countries, but where there is no distinction between AMD and mine waste, in general, only legislation pertaining to mine waste will be discussed.
Legislation and Policies
As stated in Chapter 3, the formation of AMD involves complex processes including chemical, biological and electrochemical reactions that are dependent on the conditions of the environment. AMD itself is characterised by low values of pH (high acidity), high salinity, high osmotic pressure and high levels of sulphate and heavy metals (Mohan and Chander, 2001; Mohan and Chander, 2006a,b; Garcia et al., 2013; Deloitte, 2013). AMD, by its nature, has given rise to several adverse environmental impacts including toxicity to aquatic organisms, destruction of the ecosystems, corrosion of infrastructure and tainting of water in regions where freshwater is already in short supply (Singh, 1987; Ruihua et al., 2011; Simate and Ndlovu, 2014). The adverse effects of AMD on plant life, human life and aquatic life have been reported in Chapter 5. Indeed, AMD gives rise to a range of environmental problems that will have to be addressed not only by technology, but also by socio-institutional interventions embedded in law and governance. Therefore, the subsections of this section of the chapter discuss guiding policy actions and/or legislations or laws of selected number of countries that are earmarked to help them in the mitigation of environmental impacts caused by AMD.