This presentation (in Fourth Conference of the International Academic Association on Planning, Law, and Property Rights,Dortmund 10–12 February 2010) aims at highlighting the substantial differences in legislation dealing with the exploitation of different mineral substance. The first ascertainemet relates to the marked protectionism in the case of ores, in contrast with quarry products.
The rights granted to developers under the Mining Law aim at a large scale production activity, undertakn by a single operator, with a long time-horizon, which gives the possibility to mining companies to form development poles in the country. On the contrary, legislation on quarries favours the spatial distribution of the extraction areas and limits the possibilities for spatial organisation of the activity, while making it vulnerable to the competition of other land uses and to land speculation tendencies. The problem becomes more serious in a period where there is a great demand for industrial minerals and aggregates and the exploitation areas are getting larger.
The differences have repercussions on the environmental impact of extraction activities and on the possibility to restore them but also on the attitudes of local societies face to the activities. Restoration of abandoned mine sites and especially rehabilitation of soils, even if it is easier (for technical reasons) in the case of quarries than that of mines, becomes difficult because of their dispersion and small size: the small operators are not able to meet the expenses of the restoration and usually abandon open the quarries sites. Besides, the competition between the different small enterprises that try to secure rights for the maximum of possible active quarries multiplies the nuisance spots and the neighbouring with incompatible activities becomes more possible. On the contrary, mining activity, especially surface mining, has more serious impacts on the environment due to the intervention scale and treatment needs of the material extracted. But the large firms operating them are more capable and more willing to proceed to restoration initiatives.
As regards the societal effects of the different types of mining activity, it should be noted that the local societies adopt a much more positive attitude face to quarries exploitation, compared to the very severe reactions against mining activity. A possible explication is that quarry operators are members of local societies. A second reason may be the fact that local inhabitants tolerate more easily the nuisance from extractive activities in the prospect of land speculation. This expectation of profiteering is effective in placating to a certain degree the conflicts between mining and other activities.
It becomes, then, clear that a mitigation of the differences between the legislations covering the various categories of minerals is necessary in the case of Greece, as it has already been produced in other European countries. The aim of such an amendment should be the securing of access to mineral deposits under conditions that combine the positive dispositions of the Mining Code with these of the other mineral legislations. In brief, this means a balance between the high protectionism of ores mining and the market function of the quarries exploitation.
*Ministry for the Environment, Energy and Climate Change, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com