Mining Law is concerned with legal issues relating to prospecting and exploration of minerals from ore, excavation, operation of mines, reclamation or restoration of mining lands etc.
Minerals are finite and non-renewable natural resources, which provide the vital raw material for industries and are a major source of development. Conservation measures under different Mineral Policies include provision for recycling of mineral scraps and wastes. Further, in many countries export of minerals only in high value added form in finished products is alone permitted.
The mining law opens up public lands, not set aside for any specific uses, for mineral exploration and exploitation. As per the Mineral Policy of the concerned jurisdiction, the terms and conditions of the mining leases and permits are set. Now a day Mineral Plan also provides for off shore exploration and exploitation of minerals in the seabed within the exclusive economic zone of the country.
A mining claim is a right to explore for and extract mineral deposits from a piece of land.
Mining causes environmental degradation through soil erosion, release of poisonous gases, loss of biodiversity, formation of sink holes, contamination of water by toxic chemicals.
Since mining has adverse impact on the surrounding environment and public health, mining companies are obliged to follow environmental norms set for them in the concerned jurisdiction. In many countries with stringent rehabilitation codes in place, after mining the mining area has to be restored or returned close to its original environment as far as practicable. Protection of forest cover and ecology in mining areas is also amongst the aims of mining laws.
To ensure compliance mining companies are required to furnish guarantee deposit with appropriate authorities, which is liable to forfeiture in the event of default in reclamation of mining land. This is in addition to other punitive measures including levy of damages against the defaulter.
In the mining industry stringent safety and health regulations are in place. For example, in the US under the Federal Mines Safety and Health Act there must at least 40 hours of basic safety training for each fresh underground miner or 24 hours of such orientation course for new surface miners.