Peru's mines and energy ministry (MEM) is preparing the "pre-publication" of regulations for a new mine closure law to allow the start of a public scrutiny period on the rules, the ministry said in a statement. The legislation itself has already been approved by the country's congress and was published in the official gazette El Peruano on Oct. 14, 2003.
"The legislation has had an enormous effect on Peru's mining industry since the draft regulations were published last April," said Martin Williams chief geochemist at Water Management Consultant's office in Santiago. "There has been a vast interest and urgency shown by many companies to develop and implement mine closure plans before the law comes into force," he said.
The ministry has 60 days to "pre-publish" the mine closure regulations and three months to issue their final version following the date of pre-publication, according to the MEM statement. Operating mines will have to submit mine closure plans within six months of the law coming into force.
"In most cases, mine closure plans already exist but the legislation may require companies to augment them," said Williams.
The regulations require new and operating companies to implement environmental rehabilitation and prevention programs to prevent negative impacts after mines close. Williams said they were an important step forward for Peru.
"Like elsewhere in the world, they should have been introduced 70 years ago. There is a vast legacy of environmental problems associated with historical mining operations in Peru," he said.
The MEM is widely perceived as now having more power, will and capacity to implement environmental legislation than in the past when regulations may have been ignored. Companies are taking the new legislation seriously, William pointed out.
Under the legislation, companies will be required to pay a financial guarantee into a central fund to ensure proper mine closure. The cash from the fund may be used to cover part of the state's environmental liabilities from mines formerly run by government-owned miner Centromin, although other funding sources were also being considered, said Williams.
According to industry sources, the tax implications, use and amount of the financial guarantee are likely to be the main points of controversy during the public comment period.
Information on Peruvian legislation affecting the mineral industry in that country is available in Spanish at www.mem.gob.pe.