After a long, complex and nation-wide discussion, on 9 January 2019, the Macedonian Parliament introduced stricter rules for obtaining exploitation concessions. Effective immediately, the novelties from the Minerals Law target potentially new mines, and they came as a result of the broad interest shown during the last couple of years concerning the environmental effects of the mining sector, expressed by rallies, local referendums, constitutional challenges and various debates.

What is new?

A crucial change is the ban on awarding exploitation concessions for open-pit mines that plan to use cyanides or sulphuric acid during the leaching or flotation processes for metallic minerals. This does not apply to the concessions of the existing mines.

For the purposes of implementing the mentioned ban, along with the application for exploitation concession, the applicant is now required to submit a detailed technical and technological study of the exploitation procedure, with information on the applicable techniques and substances. Additionally, the applicant has to provide a financial guarantee for potentially harmful effects to the environment.

The rest of the amendments are of an administrative nature, regarding the applications of exploitation concessions for energy and metallic minerals. In particular, the deadlines for (i) providing opinions by the relevant authorities and (ii) the preparation of the draft decision for awarding the exploitation concession are extended to 30 days. Also, as a new requirement, the awarding decision of the Government will have to contain information about the exploitation procedure and the provided financial guarantee.

The adopted amendments entered into force on 14 January 2019.