Quarries Licensing

Non-metallic mineral exploitation in quarries is governed by Portuguese Decree-Law nr. 270/2001 of October 6th, amended by Decree-Law nr. 340/2007 of October 12th, which regulates the exploration and exploitation of non metallic, including materials that may be mined by quarrying, exploration for non metallic, exploitation and the decommissioning of operations.

According to this ruling, the exploration and exploitation of non metallic needs to be licensed by the competent authority.

Geological resources considered non metallic include rocks or mineral occurrences, legally classified as mineral deposits. In this concept are included limestone, granite, sand and gravel that may be used for industrial or ornamental purposes.

Quarries are classified by type, with different legal and licensing procedures, The main concerns of the licensing authorities are related to the Quarry Plan and the qualifications of the Technical Manager.

Obtaining a quarry licence depends, to a large extent, on the restrictions of land use in place in the area where the operation is planned.

The licensing claims can become difficult due to rights of way and public domain land use restrictions. Examples of these are Ecological National Reserve (REN), Agricultural National Reserve (RAN), Public Waterways Domain, areas with special interest for Nature and Biodiversity Conservation (Natura 2000 Network), National Monuments and Buildings of Public Interest, or incompatibility with the Municipalities Land Use Plans (LUP).

Exploration License

Exploration License Request
The first step to obtaining an exploration license is to get a prior permit, for the specific location. This is issued by the Regional Coordination and Development Commission (CCDR) or by the Municipality. This can only be done if the target area is located in an area in which the Municipal Land Use Plan allows quarries.

Once in possession of the above-mentioned permit, it is necessary to prepare and present the exploration license request, through a set of administrative documents. These documents must comply the follow:

• Certificate of permit approval;

• Proof of property ownership or exploration and exploitation contract certificate, when the explorer is not the property owner;

• Application including the applicants identification and address, detailed description of the substances intended to be included in the license, intended exploration area location and its boundaries;

• Exploration work programme, including studies and work to be undertaken, a justification for exploration, techniques to be used, detailed plans and sections of the planned on site work and a description of the post operational status, specifying the remedial measures to be taken for the disturbed area;

• Topographical and “cadastral” plans.

When the licence is issued the exploration survey must be undertaken in a determined period. On concluding the exploration survey (e.g. drill holes, geophysical surveys, among others), the target area is to be restored, as much as possible, to its original condition, and it is mandatory to report the work undertaken and the results obtained to the licensing authority

Exploration Plan
“Exploration” is defined as the set of studies and tasks, which are licensed and is considered the phase prior to exploitation. The aim of exploration is to determine the dimension, characteristics and the economic interest of a mineral deposit and to determine if its exploitation is viable. An exploration project includes several field tasks, namely the surface geological survey, pitting, drilling and trenching, geophysical surveys and sample collection for assay. In exceptional circumstances the opening of small adits or galleries can be considered.

Exploitation License

Prior Location Request
Before requesting the exploitation/production license it is necessary to verify if the project requires an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to be completed, in compliance to Portuguese Decree-Law Nr. 69/2000, of May 3rd (amended by Decree-Law Nr. 197/2005, of November 8th). If that is the case, the project does not need a previous location permit, and the licensing will follow the procedures described in Environmental Impact Assessment. Otherwise, it will be necessary to obtain a favorable location permit, as described in the previous chapter.

Quarry Plan
Accompanying the quarry licensing request, a set of technical and administrative documents must be presented to the licensing authority, such as, Certificate of permit approval (previous); Proof of property ownership; Environmental Impact assessment; Project’s economic feasibility study; etc.

If the project is under the EIA legislation, the exploitation license will only be issued after the publication of a favourable, or conditionally favourable, Environmental Impact Statement.

The Quarry’s/ projects Plan includes several specific surveys, with different specifications.

The Exploitation Production Plan
Describes the mining project, including equipment and personnel involved, method of abandonment and support activities.

Environmental and Landscape Rehabilitation Plan
This plan defines the quarries landscape rehabilitation activities, such as the recovery of the affected area’s morphology and the vegetation to be planted, in order to integrate the area in its surrounding landscape. Diminishing the impacts from the exploitation.

This plan includes a proposal fee, in compliance with article 52nd of Decree-Law nr.270/2001, of October 6th amended by Decree-Law nr. 340/2007 of October 12th, taken by the authority which approves the PARP (CCDR or ICNB), as a guarantee of its execution. The amount of the fee depends on the estimated global cost of the quarry recovery (presented on PARP), considering the effectively exploited areas or the already extracted relative volumes.

Landfill Plan
Defines the waste management methodology, including production, valorisation, treatment, storage and final destination, aiming to minimize the negative environmental impacts and potential safety risks. Whenever the waste management is outside the area to be licensed for a mine, a separate licensing for a waste treatment facility must be required, in compliance with Decree–Law nr. 10/2010, of February 4th.

Closure Plan
Describes the tasks to be undertaken during the quarry deactivation, in order to guarantee a controlled abandonment of area disturbed.

Environmental Monitoring Plan
This plan details the environmental monitoring measures to be implemented in the quarry/project. It is designed to evaluate and control the main environmental impacts associated with the activities of exploitation and deactivation. This plan also aims to analyze the efficiency of the measures that will be taken to lessen the environmental impact.

Economic Feasibility Study
This plan presents an analysis of the projects provisional cost/benefit structure, according to the characteristics of the mineral resource and the exploitation plan, verifying its economical feasibility.

Triennial Programme
The Triennial Programme is a document un-associated with the Quarry Plan. It must include the description of the exploitation and landscape recovery work for a three-year period, executed under the approved Quarry Plan.

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