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Ministers welcome Government Approval to Bill to modernise Exploration and Mining legislation


Minister Alex White and Minster of State Joe McHugh at the Department of Communications Energy and Natural Resources have welcomed Government approval to the text of a new Minerals Development Bill, subject to final textual changes being finalised with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel. Minister Alex White, said "Over 3,000 people depend directly and indirectly on exploration and mining for their jobs and mining output earns almost half a billion Euro in foreign earnings. This Bill, when enacted, will modernize and update the statutory framework for exploration and mining."

The substantial Bill has over 250 sections and is likely to be one of the largest to be considered by the Oireachtas this year. The purpose of the legislation is to make better provision for prospecting and the development, management and control of mineral resources in the State. It replaces a number of Acts from 1940 to 1999.

Minister of State McHugh remarked "Ireland's diverse geology has good potential for the discovery of further economic mineral deposits and we have a comprehensive regulatory system for all stages from exploration to mine development, including planning for eventual mine closure and remediation. This is vitally important and gives reason for confidence in the sector. This new legislation consolidates and modernises that code into a single statute. Our commitment to keeping the regulatory code up to date is one of the main reasons international surveys consistently rank Ireland amongst the best in class.

"Ireland's natural resources are a vital part of our national potential. Since taking office we have renewed the commitment to their development in a way that is sustainable and that increases Ireland's international investment attractiveness. Offshore, new research such as the Atlantic Regional Seismic survey has been complemented by measures to revise upwards the fiscal take from the petroleum sector. Onshore, this Bill is a significant further step in both regulatory reform and supporting sectoral development, complemented by Government commitment of funding to the Geological Survey of Ireland's geophysical and geochemical survey of the country under the Tellus programme."

The Irish mining sector had sales of over €426 million in 2012. The overall value from the sector is estimated at €810 million, nearly double the direct production value. Exploration and mining companies contributed a total of €56 million in tax and other payments to the exchequer and to local authorities.

Ireland is Europe's largest producer of zinc metal in concentrate, and tenth largest in the world. Exploration continues in the search for new deposits of zinc and other minerals to ensure a future for this important sector in Ireland.

Concluding, Minister of State McHugh underlined that the legislation is not related to hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in any way. "There is a separate and very comprehensive piece of research looking at the question of hydraulic fracturing and no decisions on that issue will be made until that research is received and considered."

Notes to Editors

  • Mining and exploration in Ireland are currently governed by the Minerals Development Acts 1940 to 1999. These comprise the Minerals Development Act 1940 (the Principal Act) and amending Acts of 1960, 1979, 1995 and 1999.
  • The wider industry is Ireland is divided into two sections: mining and exploration.
  • In 2013, Ireland was Europe's largest producer of zinc metal in concentrate and the 10th largest producer in the world.
  • The minerals sector makes an important contribution to the national economy and is a vital contributor to the regional economy in the vicinity of operating mines.
    • Total employment of 3,306 FTEs is located almost entirely outside Dublin.
    • Output in mining, as measured by sales turnover, amounted to over €426 million in 2012.
  • The low import content in mining activity is important and when indirect and induced economic activity is considered, the overall value from the sector amounts to €810 million, nearly double the direct production value.
  • Exploration and mining companies contributed a total of €56 million in tax and other payments to the exchequer and to local authorities in 2012.
  • The Geological Survey of Ireland is the National Earth Science Agency. It is responsible for providing geological advice and information, and for the acquisition of data for this purpose. GSI produces a range of products including maps, reports and databases and acts as a knowledge centre and project partner in all aspects of Irish geology. GSI is a division of the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources (DCENR).
  • Tellus is a ground and airborne mapping programme run by the Geological Survey of Ireland, collecting geoscience data that is informing the assessment of Ireland's natural resources. Tellus has completed mapping of 25% of the island of Ireland using state-of-the-art geochemical and geophysical surveying techniques and will embark on the next phase this summer in the midlands and east.

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