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The qualification process of mining projects in environmental impact assessment: Criteria and thresholds

Slávka Gałaś and Andrzej Gałaś

Resources Policy, 2016, vol. 49, issue C, 204-212

Abstract: The aim of the article is to compare the qualification process of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) applied for mining projects in the Visegrad Group countries (V4). Poland is a major producer of copper and silver, the Czech Republic produces kaolin and uranium, Slovakia – magnesite and Hungary – bauxite. Despite significant differences in mineral reserves in the mentioned countries, mineral deposits are treated as important natural resources that are the basis for development of power industry, construction industry and other various industrial branches. The paper determines importance of the qualification in the EIA procedure. In the next part, criteria and thresholds of the qualification of the EIA procedure resulting from division of projects depending on the possibility of significant environmental impact have been described. It has been shown that there are large differences in thresholds which qualify mining projects in the discussed countries to the EIA procedure. In comparison with the European Union EIA Directive, the V4 countries have more detailed (expanded) division of qualification criteria. Slovakia is the best example when concerning division of projects into particular types, while Polish solutions present the most detailed set of qualification criteria. In the Czech Republic, any new mining project is the subject to the mandatory EIA procedure, and in Hungary they are always the subject to the screening stage. Exploration works are the subject to the qualification process only in Poland and Hungary. They are based on such parameters as the depth of a given borehole and occurrence of other protected resources (groundwater, animated nature, etc.). The criteria and thresholds for the selection of projects that may potentially have significant impact on the environment also considerably differ in the degree of details and even units. The authors raise the question whether it is intentional or accidental, emphasising that the lack of precision in this area makes exploitation of mineral resources more complicated. It should be also emphasised that the EIA procedure is one of the most important instruments of environmental management allowing to achieve sustainable economic development.

Keywords: Qualification; Thresholds; Criteria; Mining projects; Environmental impact assessment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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Handle: RePEc:eee:jrpoli:v:49:y:2016:i:c:p:204-212