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Diamonds & Gold




Commodities: Lead

The product stewardship journey started at Cannington in 1998. The world’s largest single mine producer of silver, lead and zinc was discovered in 1990 and commenced shipping lead and zinc concentrates in January 1998. Ironically, that was the same year that one European country legislated to ban all uses of lead in that country by 2015.

I set out to resolve this paradox that on one side of the world a country was to become the world’s largest lead supplier and at the same time on the other side of the world another country was banning the use of the same product.

It soon became obvious to me that the same care and respect shown at Cannington to people and the environment was not necessarily being replicated by some lead users in Europe.
Cannington had been designed and constructed to minimise opportunities of harm to people and the environment as a result of lead exposure. The effectiveness of the system as constantly monitored by measuring the lead levels in the media that reflected health of people and environment – viz air, water, soil and blood.

I then worked with other players in the lead life cycle to develop a lead stewardship system – called Green Lead. See www.greenlead.com for further details.

A green lead workshop was held in London in 2005, the communiqué from which says:

Substantial progress has been made on the development of the Green Lead project. The second Green Lead workshop, initiated by the global lead industry to advance thinking on a mechanism for assuring the safe use of lead in the manufacture and use of the lead acid battery, has been successfully concluded. The workshop was held at the Australian High Commission in London on April 27th and 28th Financial support for the development workshop was received from the lead industry as well as from the Common Fund for Commodities.

The Common Fund for Commodities is an intergovernmental financial institution established by the United Nations. The main objective of the Fund is to assist Developing Countries, which are dependent on the production and export of primary commodities. The main target groups are commodity producers in Least Developed Countries and the poorer strata of the population in other Developing Countries. The Common Fund is headquartered in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

People representing a broad range of interests in lead and its uses attended the workshop - these interests included lead miners, smelters, battery manufacturers, recyclers, environment NGOs, environment auditors, secretariat of multilateral environmental agreement, government, intergovernmental and non-government bodies with a focus on lead. Delegates attending the workshop came from a diverse range of both OECD and non-OECD countries including: Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Germany, Iran, Italy, Mexico, Philippines, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America and Venezuela. The Secretary General of International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) chaired the workshop.

The Green Lead project is aimed at defining a global standard and audit system for the third party certification of companies in the lead acid battery lifecycle in order to provide high levels of assurance that the production, use and recycling of lead in batteries can be achieved under conditions that ensure the highest levels of safety to people and the environment. The proposed standard and audit system would be supportive of the concept of the environmentally sound management of used lead acid batteries as defined by the Basel Convention. Details of the concept are to found at www.greenlead.com. The lifecycle of batteries has been initially targeted because this application now constitutes approximately 80% of lead use globally. Expansion of the principles developed in the Green Lead project to other lead applications will be considered after the completion of the development phases of the lead battery program.

The workshop agreed on the following work program for Phase 2 of the Green Lead Project:

Preparation of working papers resulting from workshop breakout groups and the workshop outcomes to be posted at www.greenlead.com

Finalise the green lead standards for the pilot phase

Agree on the number and location of sites to pilot the application of the standards

Establish pilot assessment teams

Commence first pilot program

Acquire additional funding from both industry and other sources to enable completion of Phase 2

Establish a management group comprising project funders that will provide oversight to the Green Lead Working Group

Identify potential partners (including a broader range of non government organisations) and establish strategic partnerships that will facilitate the completion of Phase 2

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