Environment

Principal applicable environmental laws

What are the principal environmental laws applicable to the mining industry? What are the principal regulatory bodies that administer those laws?

Environmental mining issues are largely regulated by the Environmental Law (Law No. 20/97 of 1 October 1997), the Environmental Regulations for Mining Activity (Decree No. 26/2004 of 20 August 2004) and the Basic Rules on the Environmental Management for the Mining Activity (Ministerial Order 189/2006 of 14 December 2006).

The Ministry for Land and Environment acts as the country’s environmental regulator.

Environmental review and permitting process

What is the environmental review and permitting process for a mining project? How long does it normally take to obtain the necessary permits?

Holders of mining rights must observe several environment-related obligations. For the purposes of defining the environmental requirements applicable to each case, mining operations are classified into three levels according to the scope, scale and sophistication of the equipment to be used.

If the activities foreseen are deemed to fall under Level I activities – small-scale mining operations including prospecting and exploration using non-mechanised methods – the mining project will merely be subject to the provisions established under the Basic Rules on Environmental Management for Mining Activity (Ministerial Order 189/2006, of 14 December), which are aimed at mitigating any environmental damage or socio-economic impacts possibly arising from mining activities by ensuring that these respect simple methods intended to prevent air, soil and water pollution, as well as damage to flora and fauna and to protect human health.

If the activities foreseen are deemed to fall under either Level II or Level III activities, the specific regime set out in the Environmental Regulations for Mining Activity will apply. Mining operations falling under Level II activities, including those carried out in quarries or that involve the extraction and mining of other mineral resources for construction, exploration and mining activities involving mechanised equipment, as well as pilot projects, must mandatorily submit an environmental management (EM) plan and an emergency and risk situation control programme.

The EM plan should comprise a report on the initial conditions of the mining area, a monitoring programme, a rehabilitation programme or a mine decommissioning and closure programme, or all of these. Once approved by the relevant authority, the EM plan is considered a statement of environmental liability with which the company is required to comply.

Mining operations falling under Level III activities – typically mining concessions – are subject to even stricter environmental requirements. More specifically, holders of a mining concession must obtain an environmental licence from the Ministry for Land and Environment before commencing operations. An environmental impact assessment (EIA) is mandatory to obtain this licence. The resulting EIA report, which details the assessment findings, shall also include an EM programme, as well as an emergency and risk situation control programme. The EM programme, which should contain an environmental monitoring programme and a mine decommissioning and closure programme, is required to cover a five-year period.

The Mining Law (Law No. 20/2014 of 18 August 2014) also contains a provision, although somewhat generic, on environmental matters. Mining activities are similarly classified into three different levels (A, B and C) in accordance with criteria akin to that provided for in the Environmental Regulations for Mining Activity. The Law further states that Level A activities are subject to an EIA, Level B activities to a simplified EIA and Level C activities to an EM programme.

Sustainability

Do government agencies or other institutions in your jurisdiction provide incentives or publish environmental and social governance (ESG) guidelines for green projects?

The government of Mozambique is committed to the global strategy for decreasing greenhouse gases and has passed green policies to support green programmes and projects from private and public entities that aim to contribute to the control and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (Decree No. 23/2018 of 3 May).

In addition, the National Sustainable Development Fund, created by Decree No. 6/2016 of 24 February, supports and finances programmes that have sustainable priorities, such as:

  • environmental management;
  • adaptation and mitigation of climate change;
  • sustainable management of forests;
  • conservation of biodiversity;
  • land management; and
  • land-use planning.
Closure and remediation process

What is the closure and remediation process for a mining project? What performance bonds, guarantees and other financial assurances are required?

Under the Mining Law, mining operations must not be closed without the execution of the closure programme. This programme is normally included in the EM plan, for activities falling under Level II, and in EM program (EIA) for Level III activities. The provision of a financial bond for Level II and III activities is required under the Environmental Regulations for Mining Activity. This financial bond may be provided annually, in the form of an insurance policy, bank guarantee or bank deposit. It is intended to cover any decommissioning costs of the operations in question.

Restrictions on building tailings or waste dams

What are the restrictions for building tailings or waste dams?

Pursuant to the Environmental Regulations for Mining Activity, both holders of mining rights and operators must take appropriate measures for the disposal and treatment of mining waste to prevent contamination of the location where the waste is deposited. It is forbidden to deposit hazardous waste on the soil and subsoil.

In addition, mining areas, including facilities used for or related to mining activities carried out under mining rights, are subject to inspection by the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy, although the law does not establish a specific number of inspections.

The Regulations on the National Salvage and Rescue System for the Extractive Industry of Mineral Resources and Technical Safety and Health Regulations for Geological and Mining Activities (approved by Decree No. 32/2019 of 29 April 2019 and Decree No. 61/2006 of 26 December 2006, respectively) also contain relevant health and safety provisions with respect to mining activities.