Blanket ban on fracking put into law

Ljubljana – The National Assembly has imposed a blanket ban on hydraulic fracturing or fracking as MPs voted 54 in favour and none against to pass the relevant amendments to the mining act on Wednesday.

This was the sixth attempt by the National Assembly to pass such a ban after it failed to endorse similar proposal by the opposition looking to thwart plans by UK investor Ascent Resources to extract gas by means of hydraulic fracturing in Petišovci in the north-east.

The original set of amendments put forward by the government proposed to ban only high volume hydraulic fracturing, but a full ban was added through an amendment tabled by the ruling coalition and endorsed on the committee.

The amendments also define in more detail certain concepts relating to the rehabilitation of mining sites, the regulation of special cases of extension of mining rights and concessions, the introduction of a digital mining register and the transfer spatial planning powers for municipal spatial planning in mining from the Infrastructure Ministry to the Geological Survey.

They introduce solutions for the payment of compensation for the mineral extracted during the rehabilitation of an illegal mine in cases where the mining right and the exploitation concession are terminated before the rehabilitation is carried out, and additionally for the transfer of mining rights if the concessionaire goes bankrupt.

The amendments also improve the scope of regulated professions in the mining sector, define certain offences and add a legal basis for the financing of monitoring and maintenance of permanent cave structures after the closure of coal mines, Infrastructure Ministry State Secretary Aleš Mihelič told MPs last week.

The debate focused on the ban on fracking with the opposition hailing the government’s changing its mind about fracking.

The Velenje coal mine welcomed the amendment allowing the concessionaire within the mining area to extend the duration of the mining right without meeting the condition of having the right to carry out mining operations on the entire land subject to the extension of the mining right.

It said it was a step towards meeting the condition for obtaining a concession to mine coal after July 2023 – by which time they have extended the mining right and the concession relationship – or until the end of the mining operation.

“The amendment provides that such concessionaires only enter into legal transactions with landowners immediately before they start developing their land, rather than years or decades before, as in the case of the Velenje coal mine,” the mine operator, Premogovnik Velenje, said.

It added that the amendment did not mean that in future landowners would not be involved in deciding what was done to their land.