The principal Acts under which exploration and mining in Ireland are regulated are collectively termed the Minerals Development Acts, 1940 -1999. Exploration and mining is undertaken by the private sector. [See note on new legislation below]
The Acts are:
- Minerals Development Act, 1940 . This is the principal Act and deals with definition of minerals, mineral ownership, prospecting licences, State Mining Leases, arbitration, etc.
- Petroleum and other Minerals Development Act, 1960 This Act removed Petroleum from the 1940 Act, and also made a number of other amendments to that Act.
- Minerals Development Act, 1979 . Vests in the Minister the exclusive right to work privately owned minerals and provides for permitting of the working of those minerals by third parties, subject to payment of compensation.
- Minerals Development Act, 1995 . Deals with renewals of Prospecting Licences and application fees for State Mining Facilities.
- Minerals Development Act, 1999 . Clarifies State ownership of certain minerals and addresses the transfer of the right to compensation under the 1979 act.
- Energy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2006. Part 9 of this Act contains provisions relating to the treatment by the rehabilitation of lands affected by mines and former mines, and for the compulsory acquisition of lands for the purposes of such rehabilitation.
In addition to primary legislation, Regulations have been made under the Minerals Development Acts. The Regulations cover matters such as fees, information to be provided with PL applications, procedures for claiming compensation etc. The principal Regulations currently in force are:
New Minerals Legislation
A new Minerals Development Bill is currently being drafted which will consolidate the existing legislation and bring certain aspects up to date and in line with current best practice.