MNH Statement on Mines and Mineral Prospecting

– Posted on Tuesday 7th October 2014

The ownership of minerals in the Isle of Man is vested in the Department of Economic Development under the Minerals Act 1986. The Department permits operators/developers to extract minerals via mining leases, mining licences and mining permissions and the Minerals Act 1986 broadly sets out the circumstances and procedures by which these Agreements are granted.

The Department has recently announced plans to allow prospecing for Mines and Minerals in a number of the Island’s upland areas.  Further to this announcement, Manx National Heritage has issued the following statement:

“Manx National Heritage fully supports efforts to ensure the Isle of Man has a diverse and sustainable economy.  Our challenge is to ensure that established parts of the visitor economy and the rich environment we have come to expect are not damaged by new initiatives. Managing change has to be based on good quality information and an objective assessment of the significance of the asset under scrutiny. 

The Isle of Man is no stranger to mining. We often think of our uplands as green and pleasant areas, but many of these areas on the Island were once used as areas for mining in their own right.  From the Bronze Age thousands of years ago to the 20th Century, mining has taken place across the Isle of Man, although people only began prospecting for minerals on an industrial scale seriously in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries. The great Laxey Wheel is one of only a few large scale reminders of this heritage which in many cases was a hard and dangerous life for all involved.

Prospecting is currently planned on some of the Island’s most sensitive areas of landscape and as guardians of the Island’s landscape, MNH was consulted in advance of DED announcing their plans for prospecting, so there have been no surprises & we will provide advice every step of the way.  Initial prospecting is anticipated to involve non-invasive surveying techniques such as aerial survey which has no impact on our landscape.

If plans change to include invasive prospecting techniques or even commercial mining then MNH would expect a full environmental impact assessment to be completed as part of the planning process including the impact on archaeology, biodiversity, ecology, drainage and landscape etc.  Prospectors will have to demonstrate that they understand the significance of the area in which they plan to work and develop their strategies accordingly.  There are benefits we have now come to expect from the Island’s countryside such as cycling, walking and wildlife, all things that are increasingly attractive to both visitors and those who live here. These will have to be balanced against the commercial benefits of mining – which is the function of the Island’s democratic planning system.    

MNH would welcome the opportunity to meet with prospectors in advance of both prospecting or any future development to help raise awareness of issues which need to be addressed.   We aim to work in a planned, objective and evidence based way. This will help ensure we can support the successful development of the Island’s economy, whilst also fulfilling our statutory remit as the Island’s national heritage agency and ultimately achieving a successful outcome for the community of the Isle of Man”. 

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