Written answers

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment

Mining Industry

Photo of Violet WynneViolet Wynne (Clare, Sinn Fein)
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165. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the Government’s position on the environmental damage caused by mining industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2072/22]

Photo of Violet WynneViolet Wynne (Clare, Sinn Fein)
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167. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if his attention has been drawn to the fact that mining activity is a significant producer of greenhouse gasses; his position on the fact that the granting of mining licences is then counterproductive to the climate action objectives and targets of Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2075/22]

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 165 and 167 together.

In July 2021, my Department published a draft Policy Statement for Mineral Exploration and Mining, and associated Strategic Environmental Assessment Environmental Report and Appropriate Assessment Natura Impact Statement for a 10 week public consultation. The consultation closed on 15 October, 2021 and my Department is currently reviewing the submissions received. It is anticipated that the Government will consider the draft policy statement in the coming months.

The document highlights the role of minerals in our everyday lives and the critical role that they will play in our transition to net zero emissions by 2050. The draft policy recognises that we need to repair, reuse and recycle more minerals and metals, but that this alone will not supply the types and quantities of minerals required to decarbonise our energy through solar power, renewable wind energy and batteries. Relying solely on minerals sourced outside Ireland and the EU risks supporting their development in parts of the world where less stringent environmental and human rights standards apply, as well as risking our ability to secure the minerals required to make the green and digital transitions a reality.

Photo of Violet WynneViolet Wynne (Clare, Sinn Fein)
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166. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if the deadline for objections has been extended in relation to the prospective mining licence for a company (details supplied) as per the emergency motion passed on 10 January 2022 by Clare County Council. [2074/22]

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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The Minerals Development Acts of 1940 to 1999, under which prospecting licences are granted, require 21 days' notice of the Minister's intention to grant or renew a prospecting licence and for the receipt of any submissions. However, it is the practice of the Department to keep the consultation period open for a total of 30 days. The consultation period, in this specific case, has been extended by a further 14 days. The consultation period will now close on 23 January, 2022.

Photo of Violet WynneViolet Wynne (Clare, Sinn Fein)
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168. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the environmental impact statement conducted prior to publishing the announcement to grant a licence to a company (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2117/22]

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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Desktop studies, geochemistry and surface geophysics are temporary, non-intrusive activities, involving minimal disturbance and have a limited zone of influence.  Such activities are not subject to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) under national and EU legislation. In the event that a prospecting licence holder does identify a target for drilling, any proposed drilling activity will be subject to further environmental screening assessments by the Geoscience Regulation Office, including EIA Criteria Assessment, to determine whether screening under the EIA Directive is required, in accordance with national and EU legislation.

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