Published
11 March 2021

Mining law and geothermal energy



Geothermal projects with shafts more than 200 meters deep are subject to the mining, environmental and other related legislation.

Before carrying out any field research operation, several authorizations from national and local administration are required. Research mining titles differ according to the energy production capacity of the project.

For all geothermal projects under 20MW, the operator submits a request for research authorization. For all projects over 20MW, an application for an exclusive research permit is requested. Under French law, the subsoil and its resources belong to the State. The mining titles thus make it possible to regulate the activity of exploration, exploitation and make sure that the operator respects the law, the good practices, and carries out the research programs according to the authorized engineering plan and financing. The applications for mining exploration titles are processed by the Ministry of Ecology and the Ministry of Economy.

Once the mining exploration title has been granted, the holder operator enjoys the exclusive right to carry out research operations on a territory previously defined.
Each operation is subsequently carried out within the framework of this mining exploration title, whether it is an authorization or an exclusive permit, requires an individual application, filed and instructed by the prefecture of the department where the project is located.

This is the case, for example, for drilling, which requires an authorization for the opening of AOTM (authorization to launch mining operations – in this case, drilling), validated by a ministerial order. During their administrative life, geothermal projects are submitted to the scrutiny of local residents and citizens, through :

  • An online public consultation, during the instruction of the application for an Exclusive Research Permit, under the environmental code.
  • A public inquiry, during the examination of the application for authorization to launch mining operations, under the mining code.

For more information : https://www.geothermies.fr/

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