Consultation opens on Draft Policy Statement on Mineral Exploration and Mining – Gov.ie

From Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications 
Published on 30 July 2021
Last updated on 30 July 2021
The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications has opened a consultation on a Draft Policy Statement on Mineral Exploration and Mining. The goal is to put in place a clear and sustainable policy framework that supports our communities, our environment, our climate and our mineral exploration and mining sector.
This Draft Policy Statement includes the ban on new prospecting licences, mining licenses or leases for coal, lignite and oil shale, in accordance with the Circular Economy Bill 2021.
Key issues for the mineral exploration and mining sector
The Draft Policy Statement covers a range of issues relevant to the mineral exploration and mining sector such as:
Five key principles and five key priorities are presented in the Draft Policy Statement.
The key principles are robust regulation; increasing awareness and participation; sustainable development; building capacity and access to knowledge; and international co-operation.
The key priorities are building public understanding and trust; enhancing the regulatory framework; research on the role of minerals in the transition to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050; better data enhancing policy and decision-making; and monitoring, review and reporting.
A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and an Appropriate Assessment (AA) have also been carried out on this Draft Policy Statement. They form part of this consultation.
Further information
Further information can be found at www.gov.ie/mineralconsultation and the closing date is 15th October 2021.
The mineral sector provides the raw materials that are necessary to many sectors, including renewable energy, transport, electronics, communications, health, pharmaceuticals, agriculture and construction.
Ireland has a diverse geology and a range of rich mineral deposits including zinc, lead, copper, baryte and gold-bearing quartz veins. Recent exploration has also been carried out for Platinum Group Metal (PGM) mineralization, Rare Earth Element (REE), technology metals (for example: lithium, tantalum, tungsten and tin), nickel and chromite, diamonds and other gem minerals.
Two mines are operating in Ireland, the Boliden Tara zinc-lead mine in Co. Meath and the Irish Gypsum Ltd. gypsum mine in Co. Monaghan. Based on data published by International Lead and Zinc Study Group, Ireland produced 11.3% of European zinc mine output (4th highest in Europe) and 2.8% of European lead mine output (9th highest in Europe).
Mineral exploration and mining in Ireland are regulated under the Mineral Development Acts 1940-1999, as amended. Mineral exploration requires a Prospecting Licence. A State Mining Facility requires planning permission from its local county council, an integrated pollution control (IPC) or industrial emissions (IE) licence from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and State Mining Licence / Lease / Permission from the Minister of this Department. As of the 30th June 2021, there are 431 Prospecting Licences for mineral exploration, six State Mining Licences and ten State Mining Leases.
Source: Six Monthly Oireachtas Report for the period January to June 2021
As part of the preparation for this Draft Policy Statement, screening for both Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Appropriate Assessment (AA) was undertaken. The screening determinations are published here
As part of the SEA scoping, statutory consultation was undertaken with the environmental authorities and a wider non-statutory consultation was undertaken by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications.
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