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Scientific considerations for the assessment and management of mine tailings disposal in the deep sea

Scientific considerations for the assessment and management of mine tailings disposal in the deep sea
Scientific considerations for the assessment and management of mine tailings disposal in the deep sea

Deep-sea tailings disposal (DSTD) and its shallow water counterpart, submarine tailings disposal (STD), are practiced in many areas of the world, whereby mining industries discharge processed mud- and rock-waste slurries (tailings) directly into the marine environment. Pipeline discharges and other land-based sources of marine pollution fall beyond the regulatory scope of the London Convention and the London Protocols (LC/LP). However, guidelines have been developed in Papua New Guinea (PNG) to improve tailings waste management frameworks in which mining companies can operate. DSTD can impact ocean ecosystems in addition to other sources of stress, such as from fishing, pollution, energy extraction, tourism, eutrophication, climate change and, potentially in the future, from deep-seabed mining. Environmental management of DSTD may be most effective when placed in a broader context, drawing expertise, data and lessons from multiple sectors (academia, government, society, industry, and regulators) and engaging with international deep-ocean observing programs, databases and stewardship consortia. Here, the challenges associated with DSTD are identified, along with possible solutions, based on the results of a number of robust scientific studies. Also highlighted are the key issues, trends of improved practice and techniques that could be used if considering DSTD (such as increased precaution if considering submarine canyon locations), likely cumulative impacts, and research needed to address current knowledge gaps.

Challenges, Deep-sea tailings disposal (DSTD), Environmental management, Improved practice, Stakeholders
2296-7745
Vare, Lindsay L.
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Baker, Maria C.
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Howe, John A.
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Levin, Lisa A.
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Neira, Carlos
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Ramirez-Llodra, Eva Z.
eb365797-2452-4fed-9d48-1f78ace160ef
Reichelt-Brushett, Amanda
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Rowden, Ashley A.
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Shimmield, Tracy M.
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Simpson, Stuart L.
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Soto, Eulogio H.
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Vare, Lindsay L.
707e1b81-8518-4b30-adb1-3e44d93e361c
Baker, Maria C.
8f846767-b3d5-4e48-b22f-3ead26a56f6d
Howe, John A.
c490678d-37b1-4baa-8a39-67a62e82b6c3
Levin, Lisa A.
44c9684c-86c9-4d3e-9b37-27df96d55f72
Neira, Carlos
63ca3a5b-ce73-4db0-9cf5-4f5c424ace51
Ramirez-Llodra, Eva Z.
eb365797-2452-4fed-9d48-1f78ace160ef
Reichelt-Brushett, Amanda
21818997-44fe-4181-a726-a8ab5b47f12e
Rowden, Ashley A.
b70b6061-f562-4346-bbab-13ddba40cde2
Shimmield, Tracy M.
0ac1d79b-d334-4db7-97e5-d9d7f15a6902
Simpson, Stuart L.
b4b2730f-aa3e-4ef4-9789-587d67a94892
Soto, Eulogio H.
50b85b42-045f-462c-8573-60912eaea0d0

Vare, Lindsay L., Baker, Maria C., Howe, John A., Levin, Lisa A., Neira, Carlos, Ramirez-Llodra, Eva Z., Reichelt-Brushett, Amanda, Rowden, Ashley A., Shimmield, Tracy M., Simpson, Stuart L. and Soto, Eulogio H. (2018) Scientific considerations for the assessment and management of mine tailings disposal in the deep sea. Frontiers in Marine Science, 5 (FEB). (doi:10.3389/fmars.2018.00017).

Record type: Review

Abstract

Deep-sea tailings disposal (DSTD) and its shallow water counterpart, submarine tailings disposal (STD), are practiced in many areas of the world, whereby mining industries discharge processed mud- and rock-waste slurries (tailings) directly into the marine environment. Pipeline discharges and other land-based sources of marine pollution fall beyond the regulatory scope of the London Convention and the London Protocols (LC/LP). However, guidelines have been developed in Papua New Guinea (PNG) to improve tailings waste management frameworks in which mining companies can operate. DSTD can impact ocean ecosystems in addition to other sources of stress, such as from fishing, pollution, energy extraction, tourism, eutrophication, climate change and, potentially in the future, from deep-seabed mining. Environmental management of DSTD may be most effective when placed in a broader context, drawing expertise, data and lessons from multiple sectors (academia, government, society, industry, and regulators) and engaging with international deep-ocean observing programs, databases and stewardship consortia. Here, the challenges associated with DSTD are identified, along with possible solutions, based on the results of a number of robust scientific studies. Also highlighted are the key issues, trends of improved practice and techniques that could be used if considering DSTD (such as increased precaution if considering submarine canyon locations), likely cumulative impacts, and research needed to address current knowledge gaps.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 16 January 2018
e-pub ahead of print date: 5 February 2018
Keywords: Challenges, Deep-sea tailings disposal (DSTD), Environmental management, Improved practice, Stakeholders

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 418424
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/418424
ISSN: 2296-7745
PURE UUID: 9d816a44-7b0f-4627-b531-a9a84fe47999
ORCID for Maria C. Baker: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-6977-8935

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 08 Mar 2018 17:30
Last modified: 14 Mar 2019 01:51

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