By publishing the White Book on the protection of mineable resources, the Ministry of the Environment launched today an extensive debate on a systemic approach to the protection of strategic mineral deposits that are not adequately protected under the existing legislative framework. The White Book advises to keep the deposits of valuable minerals accessible. It is about protecting the deposits that are most valuable in terms of national interest against site development that would prevent or significantly impede their subsequent exploitation.
There is no a comprehensive resource policy in Poland, although obviously several elements thereof are in place. The White Book is the first step towards establishing a comprehensive regulatory framework for that area and saving our key mineral deposits from irreversible destruction – said Mr. Sławomir Brodziński, Chief Geologist of Poland and Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of the Environment.
Four deposit protection options are considered in the White Book, namely:
• to do nothing,
• to establish a single deposit protection system,
• to establish a separate protection regime for selected strategic deposits which may result in Geological and Mining Law amendment so as to specify a separate category of strategic deposits covered by the new regime of protection on the level of local planning schemes,
• making use of the so-called functional areas, as regulated by the Planning and Zoning Act, for the protection of the deposits.
A lawyer's analysis of these options has indicated that the establishing of a separate regime dedicated to the protection of selected strategic deposits is the best approach. Accordingly, it was necessary to propose a list of the deposits to be protected. Their selection was based on a valorisation study, as effected by Polish Geological Institute – National Research Institute (PGI-NRI). The study was based on the following sets of criteria:
• deposit-resource criteria,
• mining criteria,
• environmental criteria
• planning criteria associated with site development.
The deposits, as selected by Polish Geological Institute – NRI, were attributed to the following protection categories:
In case of the highest protection category (i.e. strategic deposits), priority will be given to the resources located in a given area. Any other land use approach will be subject to the requirements of the potential commercial production of mineables. This is true in particular to other land development patterns and site building-up designations.
The list of top protection category (strategic) deposits is based on the analysis of 249 proven but still to be developed deposits, as selected for valorisation by PGI-NRI. The final list includes:
• 43 hard coal deposits,
• 15 lignite deposits,
• 11 natural gas reservoirs,
• 4 oil reservoirs,
• 19 metallic ore deposits,
• 3 potassium-magnesium salt deposits.
The foregoing list is open-ended.
Selection of the final approach to the protection will require technical consultations with all stakeholders – the central and local governments, residents, non-government organizations and the entrepreneurs. Therefore, the White Book will be subject to public consultations. Ministry of the Environment is planning to set up an online discussion site and hold a series of conferences to discuss the proposed White Book solutions.
Moreover, a special team will be established at the Ministry of the Environment to develop discussion-based recommendations for the central government. A final political decision on whether to protect the deposits, and if yes, then which and how to protect them, will be based on the outcomes of the consultations.