Best Practice in Mineral Policy – Portugal

Promoting the mining sector – Portuguese National Strategy

Responsible exploitation of geological resources constitutes an important development that can considerably contribute to the performance of the national economy of the European Member States. To do so, it is required prior consolidation of a sustainable policy that addresses in an integrated manner the economic, social and environmental aspects, as well as the definition of an efficient legal and institutional framework.

In this context, considering potential geological resources as a factor of economic development, the XIX Constitutional Government of Portugal included in the Broad Economic Plan for 2012-2015, approved by Law n° 64-A/2011, December 30th, under the table of the 5th Option - The Challenge of the Future - Sectorial Priority Measures, the presentation of "a national strategy for geological resources that establishes a funding strategy for the promotion of the exploration phase and attracts foreign investment to exploitation and promotes the sustained growth of the sector, increases exports of technologies and creates jobs."

Diagnosis to the sector carried out with a view to achieve the European guidelines and options taken at national level made it possible to conclude that: i) Portugal currently has a deficit in the knowledge base of its territory, ii) areas already identified with potential are, at present and in most cases, object of applications for assignment of rights of exploration but are not, however, being sufficiently studied, iii) there is room to reconsider the state's presence across the value chain, iv) disclose sector in a more structured manner, v) there is potential for improvement of the legislative and contractual framework, and finally vi) the royalties system can be further developed.

In this context, the National Strategy for Geological Resources, published on the 11th of September of 2012, as a Resolution of the Council of Ministers, aims to promote a mining sector that is:

a) Dynamic, ensuring the uptake and holding of investment and proper exploitation of resources;

b) Sustainable at economic, social, environmental and territorial levels;

c) Promotes the growth of the national economy, by ensuring supply of essential raw materials and reinforces its importance in the national Gross Domestic Product and exports; and

d) That promotes regional development, guaranteed return and employment for local people and ensures the development of the communities where it operates.

By being the segment with greater value, the initial strategic focus to boosting the geological resources sector in Portugal is focused in metallic minerals.

The guidelines of the National Strategy for Geological Resources are based on four areas of action:

Axis A - Adequacy of the sector bases, by redefining the role of the State and the revision of the rules of organization and discipline of the activity;

Axis B - Development of knowledge and appreciation of the national potential, through the improvement of collection methods and systematization of information for a better use of resources;

Axis C - Dissemination and promotion of the national potential, through communication initiatives and the creation of an Office of the Mining Investor within the General Directorate of Energy and Geology, to act as a one-stop-shop;

Axis D - Economical, social, environmental and territorial sustainability.

Thus, in order to achieve the defined objectives, the National Strategy for Geological Resources establishes an action plan with a time horizon until 2020, which includes a set of specific measures and actions in furtherance of the said axis of action.

Luís Martins
Advisory Board Chairman
Director Business Development Europe, Colt Resources Inc.