Mining and Geological Exploration in Serbia
Amendments to the Law on Mining and Geological Exploration
At the session held on 20 April 2021, the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia adopted the Law on Amendments to the Law on Mining and Geological Research (the “Law“) as part of reforms in the field of mining.
The Law on Mining and Geological Research (“Official Gazette of the RS”, no. 101/2015 and 95/2018 – other law) was adopted in 2015 and regulates the following issues:
- Conditions and manner of conducting geological research of mineral and other geological resources.
Otherwise, mineral resources or mineral raw materials of strategic importance for the Republic of Serbia are:
- oil and natural gas;
- copper and gold ores;
- lead and zinc ores;
- boron and lithium ores;
- oil clays (oil shales or shales);
- other mineral raw materials, determined by a special act of the Government at the proposal of the Ministry of Mining and Energy (the „Ministry“);
- Conditions and manner of research of the geological environment;
- Geological research for spatial and urban planning, design, construction of facilities and rehabilitation and reclamation of the terrain;
- Exploitation of reserves of mineral raw materials and other geological resources;
- Construction, use and maintenance of mining facilities, plants, machines and devices;
- Execution of mining works;
- Mining waste management;
- Procedures for rehabilitation and reclamation of abandoned mining facilities.
In the following text, we will list some of the novelties brought by the Law.
Having in mind that mineral resources, i.e. mineral raw materials are of strategic importance for the Republic of Serbia, this Law prescribes that geological research and exploitation of mineral raw materials are in the public interest. The changes also refer to the fact that it is envisaged that the applied geological research and exploitation of uranium, nickel and cobalt will be carried out with the prior consent of the Government.
It was determined that a company, i.e. another legal entity and entrepreneur who performs geological research and exploitation of mineral raw materials without the necessary approvals, is obliged to compensate the owner for the occupied land, and the Republic of Serbia or the budget of the autonomous province three times the market value of excavated mineral raw materials or other geological resources and to rehabilitate and recultivate the land on which the exploration and / or exploitation of mineral resources or other geological resources was performed.
There is a digitalization of procedures in the field of mining.
It is envisaged that the Ministry may provide the Geological Survey of Serbia with certain geological information from the report on the results of geological research and studies, provided that the said documents are treated in accordance with the label “business secret”.
Also, this Law stipulates that within the approved exploration and/ or exploitation field and exploitation space, the Geological Survey of Serbia may freely perform basic geological research without the consent of the holder of the approval for applied geological research and / or exploitation field and space in order to produce basic geological maps and specialist studies for the needs of the state, in order to inform the holder of the approval in advance about the planned basic geological research and not to jeopardize the performance of the works of the holder of the approval.
The establishment of the Chamber of Mining and Geological Engineers of Serbia (the „Chamber“) is envisaged, the competence, bodies, headquarters, and the manner of financing the Chamber are defined.
The conditions necessary for obtaining the status of a Competent Person for Mining and Geology have been defined, and licenses issued to natural persons in the field of mining and geology have been defined in more detail, licenses intended for legal entities have been deleted.
The deadlines for submitting the Final Report are more clearly defined in the sense that the report is submitted no later than 30 days from the expiration of the approved investigative period, and in case of extension of the investigative period as well as in case of retention of the investigative right, no later than 30 days.
The procedure for submitting a request for the issuance of a permit for applied geological research has been changed so that the permit is issued to the applicant who is the first to submit a complete request, i.e. a request with complete documentation.
It has been determined that when submitting a request for approval for applied geological research, the applicant shall submit a letter of intent from the bank or company from the group within which the applicant operates, to issue a bank guarantee or corporate guarantee within 30 days. from the day of obtaining the decision for the research of metallic mineral raw materials, lithium and boron, or the statement of the company that it will submit the bill of exchange within the same deadline.
It is defined that the approval for engineering-geological research determines the investigation period of up to two years with the possibility of extension for one year.
The deadlines are more clearly defined are intended to submit a request for extension of the investigation period.
The permitted quantities of mineral raw materials that can be taken for technological tests during the performance of approved geological surveys in order to determine technological properties and prove mineral reserves are determined, i.e. the points defining the amount of mineral raw materials for sand and gravel (as construction material) and technical construction are deleted. It is prescribed that the material taken for the purpose of technological tests cannot be alienated or sold and after the completed tests must be disposed of according to the project documentation in the exploration or exploitation field from which the material was taken.
New conditions have been prescribed or added on the basis of which the competent authority will revoke the decision on approval for research before the expiration of a certain investigation period.
Another novelty is that, in case the holder of the research is no longer known or no longer exists and the right of ownership over the results cannot be determined, the Ministry can dispose of the results of geological research as well as documents containing geological results.
These are just some of the changes brought by the Law, which seek to eliminate the shortcomings that have been observed in the application of norms in practice, as well as harmonization with environmental legislation and the transition to the mining system. Taking into account all the specifics of various types of mineral raw materials and geological resources, the aim was to clearly define the conditions under which they can be used while respecting the protection of public interest and the need to attract future investments of economic entities in these areas.