It is estimated that about 60% of minerals in the country are owned by the State. However, the exclusive right to work minerals is vested in the Minister under the Minerals Development Act 1979, with the exception of a very small number of mines that were in operation in 1978. Regardless of ownership, therefore, mining requires a permit from the Minister. This can be either a State Mining Lease under the Minerals Development Act 1940 for minerals in State ownership, or a State Mining Licence under the 1979 Act for privately owned minerals. Minerals in these Acts do not include stone gravel sand and clay. A State Mining Permission can be issued for very small tonnages of State-owned minerals for limited periods of time, but this procedure is rarely used. These three permits are collectively referred to as State Mining Facilities. There are at present 13 State Mining Leases and 9 State Mining Licences.
Permitting Minerals Development
As a matter of policy, the Minister will only accept an application to mine from the holder of a valid Prospecting Licence or State Mining Facility over the area in question. An application fee is charged as set out in S.I. No. 259 of 1996 - MINERALS DEVELOPMENT REGULATIONS, 1996. (Application fees for certain state mining facilities).
Whilst the information that will be required to support an application may vary somewhat in individual circumstances, and applicants are advised to consult the Exploration and Mining division, a generic list of what is required can be found in the following documents:
Base Metals (pdf document)
Other than Base Metals (pdf document)
State Mining Facilities are negotiated on a case by case basis as required by Section 26 of the Minerals Development Act 1940, which also applies to Licences under the Minerals Development Act 1979 (see Section 17 of the 1979 Act). Typical conditions require adherence to best practice, ensuring full extraction of the minerals, prevention of subsidence, and proper rehabilitation of the mineral workings and financial terms including royalties. Compensation must be paid to private mineral owners where working such minerals is licensed under the 1979 Act.
Examples of royalties and information on the taxation of minerals are included in: Fiscal Framework (2011). (pdf document)
There is public consultation before any Mining Leases or Licences are issued.
Two other main permits are required before a new mineral development can be started.
Planning Permission under the Planning and Development Acts, and an Integrated Pollution Prevention Control Licence from the EPA for all but small developments of non-metallic minerals. An Environmental Impact Statement must accompany applications for developments involving the extraction of minerals under the Minerals Development Acts. The consent of the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources is also required to make a valid Planning Application for such minerals.