The Law amending the Law on Mining and Geological Exploration (Official Gazette of RS no. 40/2021) entered into force on 30 April 2021 and most important changes refer to specification of certain solutions and more detailed normative regulation of individual issues, harmonisation with legal regulations in the field of environmental protection, introduction of e-business etc.
Amendments to the Law imply partial harmonisation with the regulations of the European Union and they have been enacted in accordance with the National Programme for the Adoption of the Acquis (2018 – 2021).
Definitions of certain terms have been changed, such as mineral raw materials, geological research area, exploration license holder, exploitation field, and new terms have been introduced such as collateral, investment agreement and preparatory works.
It is now established that geological exploration and exploitation of mineral raw materials are in public interest and if exploitation is done in a protected area or an ecological network area, public interest and significance are determined under the law regulating protection of nature.
It is also prescribed that geological exploration works without the consent of owner and/or user may not be done at a distance below one hundred meters:
- from residential buildings, except for engineering-geological, geotechnical and hydrological explorations;
- from facilities in public use, such as hospitals, care homes (nursing homes, facilities for people with disabilities etc.), religious objects, cemeteries, cultural institutions, schools, faculties, students’ homes etc, except for engineering-geological, geotechnical and hydrological explorations.
Chamber of Mining and Geology Engineers of Serbia
A novelty is also the establishment of Chamber of Mining and Geology Engineers of Serbia for improvement of conditions for performance of professional activities in the field of mining and geology, designing, geology explorations, building of mining facilities and other fields relevant for mining and geology of the Republic of Serbia, protection of guild and individual interests, improvement of service rendering and for realisation of all other goals that improve expertise and professionalism of work. Chamber bodies, Chamber financing and qualification of competent person for geology are specially regulated.
An individual article of the Law amending the Law on Mining and Geological Exploration stipulates that the Minister will, within 60 days upon entry into force of the law, establish Interim administration of the Chamber of Mining and Geology Engineers of Serbia.
Pan-European Reserves and Resources Reporting Code (PERC)
It is now envisaged that classification of resources and reserves of mineral raw materials will be done in accordance with the current version of the Pan-European Reserves and Resources Reporting Code.
E-mining and geology
By amendments to the Law, provisions on electronic business have been introduced and the possibility to submit acts in form of electronic document, through single electronic mailbox. In this manner, the parties will be able to run electronic communication with the ministry in charge of geological explorations and/or mining (“the Ministry“) i.e. documents and information will be submitted electronically and in accordance with the law regulating electronic document. However, the application of provisions referring to electronic procedure has been postponed until the creation of software that supports this system.
Transfer of issued certificates
Certificates issued within the Ministry’s scope of competence that may be transferred from one company to another are specified in detail, and the procedure regarding submitted requests and terms of transfer have been additionally defined, as well as the procedure and necessary requirements for transferring the certificate on reserves.
Approval for applied geological explorations
Provisions regulating the approval for applied geological explorations have been amended so that the insight into cadastre of research areas and exploitation fields is no longer done. Also, an obligation has been introduced for the applicant to submit a letter of intent of the bank or company from the group where the applicant operates or statement from the company that the bill of exchange will be submitted in a prescribed deadline. The legislator has thus intended to reduce the number of companies applying for approval from the competence of the Ministry and which companies do not have sufficient funds or interest to perform geological explorations.
Provisions of the Law referring to mining and geology inspections have been harmonised with the Law on Inspection Supervision, provisions regulating the qualifications of persons performing the jobs of geology and mining inspectors have been modified, as well as their rights, duties and powers in performance of inspection supervision.
In addition, the amendments to the Law more precisely specify the conditions for rejection of request for approval for applied geological explorations, as well as exploration deadlines, they regulate in detail the procedure for approval of retention of right to exploitation field, and the difference between exploitation field and exploitation area and protective area has been defined more clearly. Additional reasons have been stipulated for competent authority to cancel the decision on approval for exploration before the expiry of specified exploration deadline, so the law now prescribes 14 instead of nine reasons.
It is now envisaged that the Ministry may dispose of the results of geological explorations, as well as documents that contain geological results in case where the exploration licence holder no longer exists and the ownership of results cannot be determined.
For certificates on reserves and resources issued before entry into force of the law, the deadline of six years to apply for approval for exploitation and/or exploitation field starts on the day of entry into force of this law, except for certificates issued before 1 January 2000.
On the day of entry into force of this law, the Republic of Serbia will become the holder of licence for geological explorations and certificates on reserves and resources issued before 1 January 2000, if based on such certificates licence holders or their successors did not provide approval for construction of mining facilities and/or performance of mining works and approval for use of mining facilities.
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By Jovana Milic, Senior Associate, PR Legal