The new licenses are coming into force on 1st January 2014 and will be valid until the end of 2063. Obtaining a positive decision right now is therefore much ahead of the time. “Licenses are a key document that determines the operations of KGHM in the Copper Basin, which is why the whole procedure of their renewal was treated as a priority,” says Herbert Wirth, the CEO. “Being granted a positive decision by the Minister of the Environment in September is our great success. We are ready for year 2014 when we are going to extract ore already based on the new licenses.”
A decision based on facts
Efforts to have the license renewed have been made since 2010. The present ones, for the areas of Rudna, Sieroszowice, Polkowice, Lubin, Małomice and Radwanice-Wschód expire at the end of this year. The procedure of obtaining new licenses is lengthy and requires the collection of dozens of documents. The license application includes a series of studies concerning, for instance, protection of surface, mining damage, monuments, areas of Natura 2000 + or deposit development projects. Therefore, getting the license was pursued by team of KGHM headquarters and mines employees together with the scientific base of KGHM Polska Miedź - Cuprum Centrum Badawczo-Rozwojowe, a KGHM-owned company. The team was headed by Cezary Bach, an Agent of the Management Board of KGHM Polska Miedź SA for geological licenses. “By far the most important phase of the licensing process was to obtain a decision on environmental conditions of the project, consisting in the extraction of copper ore. Preparation of environmental reports and the procedure of verification by the Regional Director of Environmental Protection in Wroclaw, mining municipalities and the National Commission for Environmental Impact Assessment took more than three years in total,” says Cezary Bach. “The second element that complements licensing was the conclusion of the mining usufruct, i.e. obtaining the right to the exclusive use of the seam in a given mining area. Throughout the licensing process, it was necessary to monitor and achieve full consistency of license applications with planning documents: the conditions studies and local spatial development plans.”
The important role of local governments
Mining operations significantly affects the region in which they are conducted. Therefore, in the process of trying to obtain licenses involved authorities of nine mining municipalities which are located in the areas covered by the licenses. Local government officials took part, for instance, in the consultation process during the preparation of environmental reports and providing opinions on licensing projects. Together with the local governments, KGHM consulted the provisions of local special development plans in terms of compliance with the planned operations of a mining entrepreneur. It was also necessary for the municipalities to approve license applications, along with a set of documentation. “During the whole licensing procedure local governments were constantly in touch with us and cooperated actively in the preparation of documents key for the issue,” stresses Herbert Wirth. “The tips provided by the local authorities proved a valuable, substantial contribution to the work of the team of KGHM. The extension of the licenses is indeed our success. The municipalities not only granted us consent to continue the operations in their area, but also paved the way together with us for the development of the region over the next half century.”
Mining usufruct contracts signed by the Minister of the Environment give KGHM the exclusive right to operate within the scope of the license. This year the company is going to develop Mining Plant Operation Plans for three mines. They are going to be submitted for approval to the District Mining Supervision Authorities in Wrocław. They are going to be provided there in the fourth quarter of this year. According to the plan KGHM is going to begin extraction on the basis of the new licenses and new operation plans as of 1st January 2014.
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