International trade regulations in the metals and minerals sector

Health and safety, environmental and sector regulations for metals and minerals businesses


To safeguard against risks specific to businesses in the metals and minerals sector, you need to comply with UK health and safety and environmental rules and procedures.

If you are extracting, manufacturing or building abroad, you may have local regulations to comply with. Contact the UK embassy of your destination country for advice. Find a list of foreign embassies in the UK.

Health and safety

Sector-specific risks include exposure to chemicals, noise and dust, operation of dangerous machinery and accidents, such as falling.

The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) publishes health and safety information for businesses in the sector:

Environmental protection

A range of environmental regulations can affect businesses in this sector:

  • The Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations can apply if production volume rises above a prescribed limit, or if certain substances are used. Your business may need an environmental permit or a pollution prevention and control permit. Read more about environmental permits, licences and exemptions for metal production.
  • You must treat all waste before you send it to landfill. Liquid waste is banned. Read more about sending waste to landfill.
  • Businesses handling metal waste or hazardous waste must hold a waste-management licence.
  • Some metal production activities are covered by emissions trading rules and require a permit from the environment regulator. In Northern Ireland this is the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.
  • Businesses handling or storing oil must comply with oil storage regulations. Read more about storing oil.
  • The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations, which mean businesses are responsible for collecting and recycling end-of-life products, may affect your business. Read more about waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).
  • The Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) initiative requires companies consuming over 6,000 megawatt hours of energy a year to register with the Environment Agency. The CRC charges companies for every ton of greenhouse gas they produce. 

Standards compliance

A wide range of standards apply to materials such as aggregates and metals used in construction and manufacturing. You can search the internet for the various commercial organisations that deal with standards in construction or manufacturing.

Specific regulations

Additional regulations may apply to your business, eg:

  • Mining operations require planning permission and possibly also an environmental assessment.
  • Articles made of precious metals (gold, platinum and silver) must be hallmarked. Your trade association may be able to advise you.
  • Flammables (such as oil and gas) or explosives (anything dusty) are covered by rules governing dangerous goods.