Although specific definitions may vary, land use planning (LUP) is generally about optimising land resource use for the benefit of society, both now and into the future. In many ways, LUP is about the implementation of sustainable development on a particular land-base.
In any given area, there can be many different potential land uses – agriculture, tourism, soil erosion prevention, climate control, etc. – and these can compete with each other. The process for deciding on future land use needs to incorporate an informed and balanced assessment of the different options. Transparent consultation and stakeholder engagement can play an important role in the integrity of the process and acceptance of land use decisions.
Mineral resources can be often overlooked in LUP processes. Sometimes this is because of assumptions about mineral extraction and its compatibility with other land uses, or a lack of appreciation of the potential benefits from mineral extraction. Arguably, this is most often because meaningful mineral resource information is seldom readily available to land use planners. Even when it is, it is challenging to estimate the potential value of mineral resources for the purpose of comparing with other land use options. These challenges mean that in some cases development opportunities from mineral extraction are unknowingly written-off. In other cases, land use decisions are reversed in order to allow for mineral extraction, which can be both wasteful and disruptive. Decision-makers may decide that land uses other than mineral extraction take precedence in a given area. However, it is important that they arrive at this decision based on adequate geological information and mineral potential data, so as to avoid unnecessary opportunity loss for national, regional and local economies.
This document is intended to contribute to the understanding of mineral resource consideration in land use planning. The document has been written in close collaboration with representatives of different mining companies, experts and geological surveys. It is designed principally for use by competent authorities, as well as consultants and other practitioners who are involved in the design and implementation of land-use planning strategies. It is hoped that it will also be of interest to other organisations and the general public. It does not advocate for mineral extraction as a preferred land use and neither is it intended as an analysis of land use planning per se.