Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Questions (1105)

Seán Kyne

Question:

1105. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the procedure for acquiring an exploration licence including the information, application process and fees required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10379/16]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

A Prospecting Licence (PL) gives the holder the right to explore for specified minerals over a certain geographical area. PL areas typically cover 35 square kilometres.

As Minister, I have the exclusive right to grant PLs in accordance with the relevant Minerals Development Acts.  Applicants for a PL must use a standard application form and submit the required fees.  The application form and details of the fees are available on my Department’s website:

http://www.dcenr.gov.ie/natural-resources/en-ie/Minerals-Exploration-Mining/Pages/Minerals-Exploration.aspx

As the Deputy will see from this link on the website, the fee structure can vary, depending on the nature of the licence.

Applications for a PL are processed on a 'first come - first served' basis (except when my Department runs specific competitions), and each application is evaluated by professional geologists in the Department's Exploration and Mining Division to determine that it offers a robust and dynamic work programme representing the best opportunity to discover mineral prospects.  If successful, the applicant will be offered a PL.

The intention to grant a PL is advertised in the local newspaper and maps showing the boundaries of land over which it is proposed to grant a prospecting licence are displayed in the local Garda station and the relevant local authority offices.  Details are also published on my Department’s website. This allows anyone who might have concerns about the granting of the licence 21 days to submit the grounds of objection for consideration by me, as Minister, before a final decision is made.

PLs are issued for a maximum of 6 years (with potential for renewal), giving the holder the right to explore for certain specific minerals. Within that six year period, licences are reviewed every two years to ensure that licence conditions are being met.

Applications for a PL can also be made by way of a competition. The same fees and application forms apply.  Every three months from February, my Department holds a competition for certain PL areas where licences have been surrendered or terminated, or that have been offered but declined in the previous period. Previously unavailable ground may also be released through competition. Interested parties normally have two months in which to apply for a licence over a competition area, with all applications received during that period deemed to have been received at the same time i.e. no time-based priority is given to applications received during those months.

Details of all licence transactions are published in the six-monthly report to the Oireachtas. The most recent report is for the six month period ending the 31 December 2015 and is available on my Department’s website:

h ttp://www.dcenr.gov.ie/natural-resources/en-ie/Pages/Publication/Six-Month-Report-to-the-Oireachtas-under-Minerals-Development-Acts.aspx.