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Reform of Mining Law − EU Critical Raw Materials Act − Transformation

The 5th Colloquium on raw materials, environmental and climate protection (Kolloquium zu Rohstoff-, Umwelt- und Klimaschutzfragen – KRUK) took place online on 22nd January 2024 with Prof. Walter Frenz, Teaching and Research Area of Mining and Environmental Law (BUR) and Prof. Axel Preuße, Institute for Marrow Sheath, Mining Damage Science and Geophysics in Mining (IfM), of RWTH Aachen University, Aachen/Germany, as hosts with about 50 participants. The focus was on the reform of the German mining law, securing a good supply of raw materials, the EU Critical Raw Materials Act and the transformation process at state and municipal level. Hartmut Kühne, Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK), explained that the key issues paper had been completed as a precursor to the draft bill and parliamentary procedure and is now in consultation. For economic reasons, merging the mining license and operating plan procedure was not an option. A discretionary decision by the authority in the approval process is also rejected. Matthias Schlotmann, Managing Director of the Bundesverband Keramische Rohstoffe und Industrieminerale e.V., emphasized that Germany is rich in mineral raw materials with a primarily medium-sized industry. The preservation of mining in Germany is therefore of particular importance. With the very complex framework operating plan procedures, a switch to a discretionary decision of the authorities would be a major risk for companies. Björn Knudsen, Managing Director of the Verband der Kali- und Salzindustrie e.V., explained that the modernization of mining law should be characterized by an acceleration through prioritization and streamlining of procedures. Prof. Frenz emphasized that the special regulations of the Federal Mining Act (BBergG) already led to comprehensive consideration of environmental concerns. The licensing regime has proven its worth and the entitlement to licensing must be retained for clear company perspectives.

Wolfgang Reimer, Geokompetenzzentrum Freiberg, explained that the EU Critical Raw Materials Act was important for a sustainable supply of raw materials in the EU member states. Prof. Helmut Maurer, Law Firm Kunz RAe, spoke about the EU circular economy in connection with primary and secondary raw materials. Alexandra Renz, Ministry for Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalization and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, presented the status of the transformation. The coal phase-out was brought forward to 2030 in a key points agreement between the federal government and RWE in the Coal Power Generation Termination Act (KVBG) for North Rhine-Westphalia. The downsizing also requires new planning, as it was not previously provided for by law. Benjamin Fadavian, Mayor of the City of Herzogenrath, finally presented the transformation of the town at municipal level. In particular, the subsequent uses of the Herzogenrath Technology Park and one of the largest solar parks in North Rhine-Westphalia on the site of the Nivelsteiner Sandwerke are positive examples. (Fischer, BUR – RWTH /Si.)