The amendment of the existing mining legal framework (Law 22/1973) is included in the national strategy "Roadmap for the sustainable management of Mineral Raw Materials", approved by agreement of the Council of Ministers on 30 August 2022. The new law draft also aligns with the most recent European raw materials policies, such as the "Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials".
The energy transition towards a generation model based on renewable energy sources allows to reduce economy's dependence on fossil fuels, but it implies the appearance of new demands for materials and raw materials such as silicon, cobalt or lithium (and also the rarest of bismuth, tantalum or spar), which are very necessary to carry out the energy transition in the indicated terms. In fact, the International Energy Agency (IEA) indicates (https://iea.blob.core.windows.net/assets/ad9457cc-f83c-4704-ae78-e993233d481f/TheRoleofCriticalMineralsinCleanEnergyTransitions.pdf) that if the energy transition were faster, with a view to achieving carbon neutrality by mid-century, the mineral needs for these technologies would be would multiply by six. According to IEA, the biggest increase would be for lithium, for which the demand would be multiplied by 32; for graphite, by 25; for cobalt, by 21; for nickel, by 19; and for rare earths by seven.
Accordingly with the information document published by the Spanish Government, the main objectives of the amendment of the Law 22/1973, on Mining, are the following:
- The need for a modern and stable regulatory framework, dynamic and inclusive of the entire value chain of the necessary mineral raw materials.
- Harmonisation with sectorial legislation on environmental protection, biodiversity and sectoral legislation in general (land and land use planning, services, water, energy, waste).
- Reduction in administrative burdens, greater integration and transparency of administrative procedures, early participation of the agents involved, the elimination of barriers, the harmonisation of criteria, as well as agility in those procedures directly related to the transition towards a climate-neutral economy, and the review and effectiveness of the mechanisms for control, coordination and intervention of the Public Administrations.
- Adaptation of the mining legal framework to the distribution of competences between the State and the Autonomous Communities.
- The prohibition to produce uranium in Spain contained in Law 7/2021, of May 20, on climate change and energy transition will be maintained.
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