Regional govts, businesses can help reduce impact of mining

Perspectives

With wide-ranging amendments, the new Mining Law has made the industry attractive in terms of permits and investment in small- and medium-scale projects.
The new law allows small-scale mining businesses to seek permits from regional governments, and it would help reduce illegal mining and create jobs for locals.
To eliminate illegal mining, regional governments can generate revenue from permitted blocks. Before the new law, such permits could be granted only by the ministry. Now, that has been decentralized, and rules and regulations in accordance with the circumstances in the regions have been instituted.
To grant permits, regional mining block assessment teams have been formed with officials drawn from the Administrative department, the Forest Department, the Environmental Conservation Department, and other departments of the regional government.
Granting of permits for mining has been allowed in accordance with the 2018 bylaws of the Mining Law. Some further steps include seeking recommendations from regional governments concerned to know whether the blocks are in forest areas or not, and seeking of approval for the Environmental Management Plan (EMP) from the Environmental Conservation Department.
Bilateral agreements can be signed after receiving remarks from the Union Attorney-General’s Office, the Union Auditor-General’s Office, Ministry of Planning and Finance, Ministry of Commerce, and with the approval of the Union Government.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation is moving as quickly as possible on granting permits for mining blocks.
The regional permits will apply to exploitation, trading, and measurement of mines. Meanwhile, artisanal miners can individually apply for permits per household. Those who have already got permission cannot seek further permits.
But, businesses, on their part, are required to implement environmental management plans to avoid possible hazards and prevent disasters from befalling locals.
At each stage, the EMP must include detailed plans for environmental conservation such as waste management, animal and plant protection, dust reduction, noise reduction, and replanting; and, for avoiding disasters, such as landslides and flooding.
In addition to adhering to practical and internationally-recognized standards, the EMP must also cover management issues such as rehabilitation and suspension of mining activities.
Local authorities are urged to improve the enforcement of laws and permit obligations, and to take steps towards formalizing subsistence mining and reducing harmful practices.
Meanwhile, mining companies are urged to follow international standards of responsible business conduct.

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