Minerals Ireland

Frequently Asked Questions

We have divided our FAQs into the following areas:

Making a Submission
Prospecting Licence Competitions
Mineral Exploration Information
Historic Mine Sites
Mineral Ownership and Mining Rights
Mining in Ireland

We are always looking to expand this section of our website so if you feel there is information missing, or the existing content could be organised better please let us know.


What is a Prospecting Licence?
A Prospecting Licence is a permit, issued by the State, which allows the holder (the licensee) to prospect for minerals.

How long is a Prospecting Licence valid for?
The Licence will normally be valid for a period of six years.

What does a Prospecting Licence entitle you to do?
The licence entitles the licensee to carry out various activities in the search for certain (specified) minerals.

What must a Licensee do to maintain a licence?
The licensee is required to spend a minimum amount of money on prospecting, to report formally on its activities on a regular basis and to carry out its work in an environmentally responsible manner.

How is Prospecting for Minerals in Ireland Regulated?

The Minerals Development Acts 1940 to 1999, under the aegis of the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, govern exploration for, and development of, all minerals other than stone, gravel, sand and clay. The agency responsible for the administration of the regulatory regime is the Exploration and Mining Division (EMD) of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

Does a Licensee have the Right to Enter onto Someone's Land?
Yes. Under the 1940 Act, a licensee is entitled “...to enter on such land ..... and there do all such things as the licensee considers necessary or desirable for the purpose of ascertaining the character, extent, or value of the minerals lying on or under such land, .... and take and remove reasonable quantities of any such minerals for the purpose of analysis, test, trial or experiment”. However, a Licensee is required to carry out this work “......in such manner as not to interfere unnecessarily with the amenities of the locality .....”. Also, when a Prospecting Licence is being issued, the licensee is instructed that before exercising the rights of entry conferred by the Licence, they should, as far as may be practicable, discuss with the landowner or the surface occupier their intention to enter on the property and to carry out certain prospecting work there. Also, licensees are liable under the Minerals Development Acts to pay compensation should they cause any damage to land, minerals, or water supplies, or cause a nuisance by their prospecting. 

Does Prospecting Pose any Risk to the Environment?
No, there is little risk, Mineral prospecting is generally non-intrusive in nature.

What activities does prospecting entail?
It usually involves looking closely at the rocks that are found in the area (geological studies), sometimes collecting small samples of rocks, soil, or sediment from streams, for analysis (geochemical surveys), or measuring certain properties of the rocks in the area e.g. their magnetic properties (geophysical surveying)

Are there more Intrusive Activities?
If there are promising results, a licensee may wish to carry out diamond drilling or to dig a temporary trench to investigate the rock at depth.

What is the procedure for drilling?
A licensee must notify EMD two weeks in advance of their intention to drill and must have obtained permission from the relevant landowner before entering the property.

What is the procedure for trenching?
No trenching can be carried out without the prior written permission of EMD.

What Safeguards are in Place?
Licensees are obliged to comply with the guidelines for Good Environmental Practice in Mineral Exploration (available from our publications section of this website) which set out in considerable detail the precautions required to avoid damage or pollution. All licensees are notified of the existence of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) in their Prospecting Licence(s) and of any restrictions that apply to working in these Areas. A licensee can not carry out any restricted activities in these Areas without the prior approval of EMD. Similarly, no work can be carried out on or adjacent to a National Monument without prior approval.

Does Exploration Reuire Planning Permission?
No. All works carried out under a Prospecting Licence are classified as exempt development under the Planning and Development Act 2000.

Is a Licensee Entitled to Mine Minerals?
No. The holder of a Prospecting Licence is entitled only to prospect for minerals; and it a criminal offence to extract commercial quantities of minerals without a Mining Lease or Licence. Before a licensee is permitted to carry out mining, they must first obtain Planning Permission from the Local Authority (or, on appeal, from An Bord Pleanala) and alson acquire an Integrated Pollution Control Licence from the Environmental Protection Agency (unless it is a small industrial minerals development). An Environmental Impact Statement must accompany these applications. This will ensure that all planning and environmental issues are fully considered. Also, mining can not commence without a Mining Lease or a Mining Licence from the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. There are  opportunities in these processes for members of the public to have their views taken into account.

What is the Difference Between a PL and a PLA? 
A Prospecting Licence Area (PLA) is a defined area of approximately 35sq. km; its boundaries usually follow townland boundaries. It is an area over which Prospecting Licences (PL) are issued.

A PL is a Prospecting Licence; it is issued for a defined Prospecting Licence Area (PLA). The PL is issued for a period of 6 years for specific minerals and it can be renewed. Each PL granted entails minimum work and expenditure requirements. Work reports are required every two years.

Making a Submission

How does a Person make a Submission following the Publication of a Notice indicating the Minister's Intention to Grant a Prospecting Licence?
A person can make a submission to EMD within 15 working days or 21 days of the “Notice of Intention to Grant a Prospecting Licence” which appears in the local newspaper. All submissions will be considered by the Department and a written response will issue in a timely manner. The Minister reserves the right to make details of any objections received available to the licence applicant where he/she considers necessary, in order to consider fully the validity of any objections received.

Prospecting Licence Competitions

What is a Competition Area?
Competition areas are areas that have been recently surrendered or that have been offered and declined.

How often is there a Competition for Prospecting Licences?
The list of prospecting licences available for application under competition is usually published on the 1st of February, 1st May, 1st of August and 1st of November of each year.

How can I Locate a Prospecting Licence Area (PLA)?
The interactive maps service on the
mineralsireland  website allows you to search for PLA’s.

Where can I get Licence Status Information Relating to a Specific PLA?
Information for PL’s along with online exploration company reports can be viewed on this site through our Exploration Company Reports page
 by clicking on the PL number of interest. EMD are currently working on a new spatial data site that will also display this information.

How do I apply for a Prospecting Licence (PL)?
Application forms can be downloaded
and mailed to the following address:

Exploration and Mining Division,
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment,
29-31 Adelaide Road,
D02 X285,

Mineral Exploration  Information

Where can I find Free Information and Released Company Report on Mineral Exploration in Ireland?
All company exploration reports are made publicly available six years after they are submitted to EMD, or until the expiry or surrender of the licence. They can be viewed by clicking on a PL number at the following location. Please visit our Company Exploration Reports page for more information.

Where can I find Borehole Information and Logs?
On this site
go to the interactive maps online service click on the ‘Exploration’ map in the bottom right corner. Zoom into the area of interest. In the toolbar, click on the ‘Layers’ button to ensure that the ‘Map Layers’ key is displayed to the right of the map. There should be a tick in the box next to the ‘Boreholes’ layer in the key. Highlight the ‘i’ symbol beside the word ‘Borehole’ by clicking on it. Press the ‘i’ symbol in the map toolbar and then simply click on the borehole symbol Å of interest.

Does EMD have any Responsibility for Quarries?
EMD are not involved in any of the regulatory aspects of sand and gravel quarries.

Historic Mine Sites

Where can I find Information about Historic Mines?

This website gives some insight in the mining history of Ireland. The Mining Heritage of Ireland is a Trust dedicated entirely to historic mining in Ireland, for more information visit their website at http://www.mhti.com/

Where can I Find Information about Historic Mine Rehabilitation?
Visit the 'Mining and the environment' section for more information.

Who Should I contact about Old or Historic Mines in my Area?
Contact EMD through one of the following mediums: 

By post:
Exploration and Mining Division,
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment,
29-31 Adelaide Road,
D02 X285,

By phone: + 353-1-6782000

By email: emd.info@dccae.gov.ie

Mineral Ownership and Mining Rights

Minerals legislation is a complex subject. What follows is an attempt to answer in relatively straightforward language the most frequently asked questions about minerals ownership and mining rights. While every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy, it is intended for general guidance only and does not purport to be a statement of the law.

Prospecting and mining in Ireland are carried out under the Minerals Development Acts 1940 to 1999. Prospecting and mining facilities are issued and overseen by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, in particular by the staff of EMD.

What are Minerals?
For the purposes of prospecting and mining, minerals are as defined in the Acts. Minerals do not include the agricultural surface or peat. Neither do they include stone, gravel, sand or clay, except for a few listed minerals e.g. Roofing Slate, Connemara Marble, Silica Sand and Ball Clay. The most common minerals covered by the Acts and being mined or prospected for in Ireland are Zinc, Lead, Gold, Gypsum and Coal.

Who Owns Ireland's Minerals?
Minerals are either State owned or Privately owned. Approximately 60% of minerals are in State ownership. Private mineral ownership arises mainly when the lands in question have not been dealt with by the Land Commission since 1903. (If the Land Commission has dealt with the lands, the mineral rights would have been retained by the State)

Do I Own Minerals Found on My Land?
Mineral ownership rights are detailed in the land registry. Most minerals are the property of the state unless specified otherwise in the land owner’s deeds. All mines of gold and silver, i.e. deposits where these are the main minerals, are State owned. If an estate has been dealt with by the Land Commission under the Land Acts, the minerals are likely to be in State ownership. In any case, the right to work almost all minerals was vested in the Minister by the Minerals Development Act 1979. The exceptions were minerals that were being worked when that Act was passed. Compensation is payable by the Minister to the appropriate person, usually the mineral owner where the minerals being worked are in private ownership. The amount is determined by agreement or, failing that, by arbitration by the Mining Board

How do I Find Out who Owns the Minerals on my Land??
Landowners can find out from their Title Deeds if they own the minerals on or under their land. In many instances where the minerals are privately owned, the owner of the land will also be the owner of the minerals. However, there are some instances where the minerals are privately owned but do not belong to the landowner; these are mostly in areas of historic mining. Mineral ownership is complicated, and good legal advice is advisable. Before any Mining Lease or Licence is issued, the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources must carry out detailed title searches to determine the likely ownership of the minerals, and notify any possible owners.

Mining in Ireland

What is the Difference Between a State Mining Lease and a State Mining Licence?
A State Mining Lease is issued when the minerals are state owned and a State Mining Licence is issued when the minerals are privately owned. The term State Mining Facility (SMF) is normally used to describe both.

How many State Mining Facilities are currently licenced in Ireland?
At the end of 2013 there were 23 State Mining Facilities (SMF) in Ireland.

design by Dara Creative