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 Mozambique’s Environmental Law (Law No. 20/97, of 1 October 1997), its Environmental Regulations for Mining Activity, and the Basic Rules on Environmental Management for Mining Activity.

The Ministry for Land, Environment and Rural Development 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, the mining project will merely be subject to the Basic Rules on Environmental Management for Mining Activity, which are aimed at mitigating any environmental damages 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 which 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 plan (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 the above. 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, Environment and Rural Development 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 environmental management programme (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 procedure to obtain an environmental licence involves a public consultation process with the local communities, during which the licence holder must ensure that these communities are given the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process. Before the environmental licence can be issued, the EIA report must be approved by the Ministry for Land, Environment and Rural Development following a technical review conducted by the same in cooperation with the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy. The environmental licence is valid for the term of the corresponding mining title, but is subject to review every five years and may be issued subject to recommendations and certain conditions. Moreover, the Environmental Regulations for Mining Activity encourage stakeholders to enter into a memorandum of understanding for a five-year period, in order to establish the parties’ agreement on the methods and procedures to be applied in the management of environmental, biophysical, social, economic and cultural matters, both during the project and on decommissioning. Furthermore, an environmental management report outlining the results of the environmental monitoring, from a social, economic, cultural and biophysical standpoint, must be submitted each year to the Ministry for Land, Environment and Rural Development.

The Mining Law also contains a provision, although somewhat generic, on environmental matters. Mining activities are similarly classified into three different levels (called 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.

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?

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 products in order to prevent contamination of the location where this 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 Technical Safety and Health Regulations for Geological and Mining Activities (approved by Decree 61/2006, of 26 December 2006) also contain detailed health and safety provisions with respect to mining activities.