Royal Decree 975/2009 about extractive industries waste management and the protection and rehabilitation of areas affected by mining activities

Last updated: 12 December 2023

Royal Decree 975/2009 seeks to establish measures, procedures, and guidelines to prevent or reduce the adverse effects on the environment, particularly on water, air, soil, fauna, flora and landscape, and the risks to human health that may result from the investigation and use of mineral deposits and other geological resources, and the management of mining waste.
Royal Decree 975/2009 was issued to incorporate the Directive 2006/21/EC of the European Parliament on the management of waste from extractive industries and to unify and improve some Spanish regulations referring to this issue, such as Royal Decree 2994/1982, on the restoration of natural areas affected by mining activities, and Royal Decree 1116/1984, on the restoration of the natural space affected by open-pit coal mining and the rational use of these energy resources. Directive 2006/21/EC was not incorporated directly into the Spanish internal legal system; rather, the process has consisted of a conceptual elaboration to unify and improve Spain's internal regulation.

This Royal Decree is applicable to those who carry out research and exploitation activities (exploitation, storage, preparation, concentration, or processing of mineral deposits and other geological resources). They are obliged to rehabilitate the natural space affected both by mining work and by its related services and facilities, including the areas where mining waste is deposited.

Prior to the granting of authorisation, permit, or concession regulated by Spanish Mining Law 22/1973, the applicant must submit a Restoration Plan for the natural area affected by the mining activities. In other words, the applicant has to make a plan for the treatment of the land to return it to a satisfactory state with regard to the soil quality, the fauna, the natural habitats, the water, the landscape, and appropriate beneficial uses. The Restoration Plan must also include a mining waste management plan. 

The Decree establishes a public consultation in which people interested are consulted prior to the granting of authorisation for the restoration plan. Moreover, to ensure compliance with the Restoration Plan, the mining operation entity is required to provide two financial guarantees.

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