Minerals and petroleum legislation, policy and statutory rules

Minerals and petroleum prospecting in Northern Ireland is permitted in accordance with specific legislation, policies and statutory rules

Mineral prospecting legislation

Lignite policy

Government policy generally in relation to lignite is reflective of the fact that the extensive reserves are of strategic significance to Northern Ireland. A considerable amount of data has been compiled as a result of exploration activity over the past two decades and this has led the Department of the Economy (DfE) to suspend the issue of any further prospecting licences for lignite in the Ballymoney area. The position will be reviewed in three years.

In the event of a company lodging an application for a mining licence or lease, it will continue to be necessary for that company to obtain planning and other statutory approvals, dependant on the nature of the operation, before a licence or lease would be granted.

Planning policy in relation to lignite mining seeks to balance the economic benefits with environmental effects. Applications would therefore be required to be accompanied by an environmental statement which details the likely significant effects of the proposal and mitigation measures. The attached guidance should also be considered.

The UK’s Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) report

The UK’s Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)  Secretariat has published on 30 April 2018 its third UK EITI report covering the year 2016.

EITI is an international initiative to improve the transparency of payments by extractive businesses to Governments. This report includes a contextual report describing the activities of the extractive industries in the UK and provides information about the value and importance of the industry to the UK.

Since 2015, at official level, DfE has provided the EITI Secretariat with information on Northern Ireland activities with regard to the extraction of minerals (including gold, silver, base metals and industrial minerals as well as stone, gravel and other aggregates from Northern Ireland mines and quarries). Currently DfE sits on the Management Steering Group (MSG) of UKEITI as a government representative.

Statutory Rules 2010

On 30 April 2010, the Department made two new Statutory Rules.

The Hydrocarbons Licensing Directive Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010

The Hydrocarbons Licensing Directive Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010 implement Council Directive 94/22/EC in Northern Ireland by introducing new arrangements and requirements for granting and using licences relating to the prospection, exploration and production of hydrocarbons.

The Petroleum Production (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010

The Petroleum Production (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010 amend the existing Petroleum Production Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1987 to complement the Hydrocarbons Licensing Directive Regulations by introducing new requirements for applications for petroleum licences and new provisions for licences.

The amendments will bring licensing arrangements here more closely into line with those in Great Britain.

Both sets of Regulations were laid before the Assembly on 5th May 2010 and came into operation on 28 May 2010. 


Related to Minerals and petroleum legislation, policy and statutory rules

Access to information

How to request information from the Department for the Economy including Freedom of Information (FOI) and the use of our Publication Scheme.

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