Who is responsible? Laws and the responsibilities of public authorities

The extraction of raw materials is regulated in Germany by the German Federal Mining Act (BBergG). In 1982, it replaced the old mining laws of the Federal States and the numerous ancillary mining laws of the Federal Government and the governments of the Federal States. The overall control of the min- ing law within the Federal Government is the respon- sibility of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The mining authorities of the Federal States (see Figure 1) implement the Act and also bear the responsibility for the authorisation and supervision of mining activities (depending on the natural resources in question). The Federal States have passed some of their own mining regulations in order to meet the specific requirements and characteristics of their own regions.

Responsible public authorities

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Bavaria

Berlin

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Bavaria

Berlin

Brandenburg

Bremen

Hamburg

Brandenburg

Bremen

Hamburg

Hesse

Mecklenburg-Western-Pomerania

Hesse

Mecklenburg-Western-Pomerania

Lower Saxony

North-Rhine Westphalia

Lower Saxony

North-Rhine Westphalia

Rhineland-Palatinate

Saarland

Saxony

Rhineland-Palatinate

Saarland

Saxony

Saxony-Anhalt

Schleswig-Holstein

Thuringia

Saxony-Anhalt

Schleswig-Holstein

Thuringia

Legal regulation

Germany differentiates between three groups of nat- ural resources in terms of their legal regulation:
Depending on the Federal State, the natural resource and the type of extraction involved, middle and lower-management levels of governmental bodies are responsible for the landowners’ natural resources category.

Legal division of natural resources in Germany

natural resources
Legal division Free-to-mine natural resources (subject to mining law)Free-to-mine natural resources Privately-owned natural resources
Subject-specific subdivisionEnergy resources: coals, hydrocarbons, geothermal energy

Industrial minerals: fluorite, graphite, lithium, phosphorus, all salts that are readily soluble in water, sulphur, barite, strontium, zirconium

Metal ores: e.g. iron, copper, lead, zinc ores, etc.

Also: all natural resources in the area of the continental shelf and coastal waters (including gravel and natural stones)
Right to mine: must be granted by the responsible mining authorityProof of ownership: of the land, e.g. land leasing contract must be submitted to the mining authority.
Right of disposal over natural resources These natural resources are ‘free’, viz., they do not belong to the landowner. Their exploitation requires mining rights and the permission of the mining authorities.
Approval of the operating plan by the mining authority (approval of the main operating plans every two years) An operation-relevant approval specifies the technical and legal environmental conditions under which natural resources can be explored and extracted.
Type of legal regulation
Governed by the Federal Mining Act § 3, Abs. 3 § 3, Abs. 4
Supervision by the mining authorities of the Federal States cThe extraction of free-to-mine and privately-owned natural resources is subject to supervision by the relevant mining authority (mining authorities; § 69(1) BBergG). In addition to awarding mining rights and granting operating plan approvals, the third core competence of the mining authorities is the supervision of mining operations. According to the Federal Mining Act, mine inspectors may enter the mines, demand information, visit facilities and carry out tests – and they may also impose requirements in individual cases. The mining entrepreneurs also have obligations, e.g. to report incidents and accidents, to accept the actions of the mining inspection authorities and to accompany the mine inspectors on tours of the mines and mine buildings (inspections).

Own presentation. Partial source: State Geological Service of the Federal Republic of Germany, Securing of Raw Materials 2008