May 6, 2014 by Graham Merrington

I attended a workshop in Singapore from the 29-30 April 2014 on the Tropical Environmental Risk Assessment of Nickel. Chris Schlekat and Emily Garmin of NiPERA organised the meeting that was aimed at illustrating recent advances on the ecotoxicology and environmental risk assessment of nickel (e.g. click here) and also establishing what the research needs are in order to be able to apply these advances in tropical South East Asia. Specifically, the initiative is aimed at supporting risk assessment to ensure the appropriate and responsible development of lateritic nickel deposits in this region.

Attendees at the workshop were from 9 different countries, representing regulatory, industry and governmental stakeholders. The first day provided an information update on research undertaken by NiPERA in Europe, North America, Canada, Australia and China and how this is being implemented to deliver better assessment of sediment, soil and marine and freshwater risks from nickel. In addition, examples were given as to how models that account for bioavailability, developed in Europe and validated in North America, can be tested for suitability in regions outside of those for which they were originally developed. A comparison between the chronic and acute ecotoxicity of nickel in temperate and tropical species was presented by Professor Kenny Leung of the University of Hong Kong. The second day was structured around breakout groups focussed on understanding the characteristics of exposures and potential effects from the operation of laterite mining in South East Asia. The outputs from the workshop were a series of priority work packages, with an emphasis upon a gap analysis and focus upon marine and estuarine ecotoxicity in regulatory jurisdictions across the region.

A steering group was co-ordinated to develop the action plan and drive the priority work packages over the next three years.