Approval of an operating plan

Exploration, extraction and beneficiation operations may only be set up, managed and discontinued if they are based on an operating plan. These plans are drawn up by the prospective mine operator and approved by the responsible authority. However, the approval of such operating plans is tied to conditions that address operational and work safety, the protection of the surface area, the prevention of harmful impacts, the protection of the deposits and the preventive measures regarding the proper restoration of the areas affected by the extraction of the natural resources. For further information see Managing human intervention in nature.
Operating plans basically include the following:
  • A presentation of the scope of the project
  • A presentation of the technical implementation of the project
  • The duration of the project
  • Evidence that the conditions of approval have been met.
The operation of a mine is dynamic in nature due to the mine’s continuous adaptation to the deposit’s characteristics. This mode of operation also entails specific risks for employees and third parties. Due to these conditions, continuous monitoring of the operation is necessary, at specified intervals. The main operating plan should generally not exceed a period of two years and should be approved by the mining authority. Constant coordination between the entrepreneur and the mining inspection authorities is required to ensure both intensive state control of the mining operations and planning flexibility. In Deutschland werden die Bedingungen, unter denen Bodenschätze gefördert werden, grundsätzlich nicht unmittelbar zwischen den rohstofffördernden Unternehmen und den staatlichen Stellen verhandelt. Die Bedingungen für das Aufsuchen und die Gewinnung von Bodenschätzen sind in Gesetzen allgemein gültig festgelegt und werden durch die jeweils zuständigen Behörden umgesetzt. Vereinzelt werden neben den Genehmigungsverfahren auch vertragsrechtliche Vereinbarungen zwischen Unternehmen und staatlichen Stellen getroffen. Diese stellen aber, wie oben dargelegt, nicht die Regel, sondern die Ausnahme dar. Wo privatrechtliche Vereinbarungen für rohstofffördernde Unternehmen in Deutschland relevant sind, werden diese im Zahlungsabgleich aufgeführt und erläutert.

Environmental impact assessment

in conjunction with the Law on Environmental Impact Assessmen

If an UVP is necessary, a planning approval procedure  must be carried out in accordance with mining law. This procedure includes the affected population by making the plans for the extraction of mineral resources accessible to the affected population so that objections can be submitted. The authorities concerned then address the objections and a public hearing is held, with the participation of all official bodies and persons who have expressed objections. A decision on the objections is made by the competent authority (in this case the mining authorities), and adopted as an administrative act. The planning approval procedure under mining law is also a bound decision, one which is not characterised by planning considerations and discretion. In addition, it not only binds the decisions of other authorities at the horizontal level, it also applies to the following operating plans (vertical concentration) as per § 57a(5) BBergG).


In Federal States in which legislation does not include an excavation law and the State-level Nature Conservation Law does not apply to the extraction of non-energetic, ground-based natural resources in the context of dry excavations, this type of natural resource extraction falls within the scope of the relevant state building regulations.

Legal limitations also exist: State building regulations apply to the excavation of solid rock (limestone, basalt, etc.), for example, in quarries with an area of up to 10 hectares (ha) in which no blasting is carried out. In the event that this area is exceeded, or if water bodies are formed after completion of the extraction operations, the German Federal Immission Control Act (BImSchG) and/or Water Resources Act (WHG) are applicable.
In Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia, the above-ground excavation of non-energetic, ground-based natural resources in the context of dry excavations is determined at state level by the existing excavation laws (AbgrG). For the excavation of solid rock (limestone, basalt, etc.) in quarries where blasting does not occur, the AbgrG applies to sites with an area of up to 10 ha. In the event that this area is exceeded, or if water bodies are formed after completion of the extraction operations, the German Federal Immission Control Act (BImSchG) and/or Water Resources Act (WHG) are applicable. In the other Federal States, this type of natural resources extraction is regulated by the respective state building regulations or by the state-level nature conservation laws.

In general, the AbgrG applies to those raw materials the excavation of which is not directly subject to mining law or the mining authorities. These raw materials include (in particular) gravel, sand, clay, loam, limestone, dolomite and other rocks, bog mud and clays. However, the jurisdiction between AbgrG and mining law can vary from case to case in the case of certain raw materials, such as quartz gravels. The requested authority must always verify its own jurisdiction in each case. The AbgrG also encompasses surface area usage and the subsequent rehabilitation of the area.
The German Federal Immission Control Act (BImSchG) is the most important and practice-relevant law in the field of environmental law. It constitutes the basis for the approval of industrial and commercial installations. In the natural resources extraction industry, quarrying companies must have approval to extract stones and earth. Every quarrying area of 10 hectares or more must undergo a full approval procedure, including public participation and UVP (environmental impact assessment). A more simplified approval procedure is used for quarrying areas of less than 10 hectares.

The sphere of responsibility for the legal immission control approval procedure is fully specified in the Immission Control Acts of the Federal States. The Federal States are tasked with the administrative enforcement of the approval procedure. Each individual state’s Environment Ministry – the highest local immission protection authority – usually bears the responsibility for this procedure. Subordinate authorities include regional councils, district authorities and lower-level administrative authorities. Administrative jurisdiction generally lies with the lower-level administrative authorities.
The GDP measures the value of goods and services produced domestically (creation of value) within a given period (quarter, year). The Federal Office of Statistics calculates the GDP as follows: production value minus intermediate consumption = the gross value added; plus taxes on products and minus subsidies = GDP
The gross value added is calculated by deducting intermediate consumption from the production values, so it only includes the value added created during the production process. The gross value added is valued at manufacturing prices, i.e. without the taxes due (product taxes), but including the product subsidies received.

During the transition from gross value added (at manufacturing prices) to GDP, the net taxes (product taxes less product subsidies) are added globally to arrive at an assessment of the GDP at market prices’. Source: Destatis
The planning approval procedure under mining law is used for the approval procedure of a general operating plan for projects which require an environmental impact assessment (§§ 52(2a), in conjunction with 57 a of the BBergG).
There are different definitions and methodological approaches at the international as well as at the national level as to what subsidies are and how they are calculated. According to the definition of the German government’s subsidy report, this report considers federal subsidies for private companies and economic sectors (ie grants as cash payments and tax breaks as special tax exemptions) which are relevant to the budget. Subsidies at the federal level can be viewed via the subsidy reports of the federal states (see Appendix 5 of the German government subsidy report).
In compliance with § 68(1), Water Resources Act (WHG), the excavation of landowners’ natural resources such as gravel, sand, marl, clay, loam, peat and stone in wet extraction operations requires a planning approval procedure. The reason for this is that groundwater is exposed in wet extraction, resulting in above-ground water. The planning approval procedure is implemented by lower-level water authorities.

The procedural steps of the planning approval procedure are governed by the general provisions of §§ 72 to 78 of the Administrative Procedures Act (VerwVfG). Within the meaning of § 68(3), nos. 1 and 2 of the WHG, the plan may only be established or approved if an impairment of the common good is not to be expected and other requirements of the WHG as well as other public-law provisions are fulfilled.