The Vermiculite Association (TVA) has, for years, attempted to develop standards for the industry. From the Product Stewardship Program (PSP) to the current Best Practices Protocol, TVA is committed to helping its participants establish themselves as being superior in how they conduct business than those who do not follow best practices. Because the organization is worldwide and does not represent just one country, mandated legislative standards are almost impossible to enact. Think about every government and regulatory entity that TVA would have to persuade to advocate for best practices in the vermiculite industry and it boggles the mind!
To try and develop a methodology that sets those following best practices apart from others, TVA developed a task force to look at what it means to follow best practices in vermiculite mining. Best practices are typically accepted as being superior to other alternatives because they produce results superior to those achieved by other means and they help to standardize operations for an entire industry, despite any geographical boundaries. The task force included experts in the vermiculite industry like Dr. Eric Chatfield and Don Ewald from RJ Lee Laboratories, and representatives from all of the major mining vermiculite operations in the world like Palabora Minerals, Brasil Minerios, Specialty Vermiculite, and Virginia Vermiculite.
Over the course of two years, this task group worked diligently to discuss processes, procedures, and protocols that would result in an operation that could provide confidence that it was following proper practices for mining operations in the vermiculite industry. The Best Practices document covers quality control systems, management and technical training, asbestos control procedures, analytical test procedures, microscope set-up, and pre-shipment quality assurance. Those companies agreeing to participate in the program must send forms documenting their efforts to follow best practices for asbestos detection and control protocols.
The Vermiculite Association is dedicated to these efforts and will next look at best practices for other segments of the industry. Stay tuned!