Mining, Quarrying and Exploration in Ireland

Mineral ownership in Ireland can be divided into two groups; State-owned and privately-owned. State-owned minerals are referred to as ‘Scheduled’ and broadly include the metalliferous, industrial and energy minerals. Bulk minerals such as stone, clay, gravel and sand are not vested in the State and are in the main privately-owned.

With the exception of the ordinary bulk minerals, exploration for and development of all other minerals is controlled by the Government. The agency responsible for the administration of regulatory aspects is the Exploration and Mining Division (EMD), a line division of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

Simplistically, exploration is undertaken under a licensing system and mining is controlled by State Licence, Lease or Permission. A Local Government-based statutory development control system is in operation which provides for an independent statutory planning appeals process. Planning permission is needed to operate any mineral development.

Practically all mines and the majority of quarries also require environmental impact assessment before planning permission can be obtained. In addition, all proposed ‘scheduled minerals’ developments require an integrated pollution control (IPC) licence after obtaining planning permission. The IPC licence is issued by the Environmental Protection Agency to control all aspects of air, water, waste and noise pollution. The Local Planning Authorities are responsible for the licensing and control of pollution from all other minerals developments.

Minerals developments are subject to other statutory obligations, for example safety, health and welfare, emission to air and water, waste management.

aerial view of an irish mine

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