Mineral Raw Materials and Spatial Planning

Sustainable supply and use of mineral raw materials is considered crucial for economic stability and prosperity. Securing access to land for mineral exploration and extraction in an integrated and optimized process is therefore of great importance and one of the main challenges the extractive industry is facing today. At the same time, given the distrust of the local communities towards mining activities, prior assurance of social consensus and acceptance is an important factor for the smooth development of the latter.

The need for the rational supply and use of natural resources is one of the issues requiring the regulatory intervention of the state at local, regional and / or national level.

The legal provisions incorporated in the Greek Constitution (Art. 106 and 18) and the Mining Code underpin the significance of Mineral Raw Materials (MRM) for the country and the need to safeguard them for the benefit of national economy.

The National mineral policy also addresses safeguarding or protection of mineral deposits and prospective areas in the 2nd Policy Axe of the Policy’s document as follows: “Adequate land-use planning that shall ensure the possibility of access to the MRM deposits and contribute to the resolution of issues related to the competition of different land uses”.

Nevertheless, these provisions are not sufficient for safeguarding MRM. In practice the MRM exploitation is usually the result of a compromise between the environmental, mining, rural and urban development legislative provisions and development priorities of the Administrative Region.

The Greek state, recognizing the need to safeguard MRM, announced in 2018 the elaboration of a “Special Spatial Plan for the Mineral Raw Materials”. This plan builds on the efforts of the public administration to develop a policy for the spatial arrangement of the extractive sector, based on the sustainable development principles.

The aim of the “Special Spatial Plan for Mineral Raw Materials” is the development of a policy for the spatial arrangement of the extractive activities, based on the sustainable development principles. It will encompass the main directions for the spatial planning of the extractive sector in accordance with the existing land use planning and it will be harmonized with the National Strategy for the strategic planning and development of the country’s mineral wealth.

The elaboration of the “Special Spatial Plan for Mineral Raw Materials” will bring further benefits regarding the issue of protecting mineral resources. The expected benefits pertain to:

–  The generation of a framework to which, all the Spatial-Development frameworks of the regions and municipalities, regarding the development of exploitable Mineral Raw Materials (MRMs), will be compatible with.

–   The facilitation of exploration licensing and exploitation permitting of MRMs through the creation of a framework that will clearly establish the areas of existing exploitable deposits on national level as well as the broader areas for MRMs prospecting, thus, reducing the time and the current bureaucratic permitting processes, especially in relation to important investment initiatives.

–   Enforcement of the principles of legal certainty, a prerequisite to attract investments.

The elaboration of the plan is still in progress. The timeline of its implementation according to the 2022 amendment has been extended to the end of 2023.