Angola sits on the western side of the Southern part of the African continent, bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Namibia and the Atlantic Ocean. With a total area of almost 1.2 million km2, Angola is the 23rd largest country in the world and the 7th largest country in Africa.
Angola’s landscape can be divided into four main areas: rainforest in the northern region; a high plateau in the east characterised by dry plains; a region of hills and mountains in the central area, with the Great Escarpment in the central south-west; and a dry coastal area of lowlands in the south and west, including parts of the Namib desert at the base of the country. Angola’s climate is described as subtropical, with both dry and rainy seasons experienced throughout the year at different times in the various ecoregions. Notable landmarks in the country include the Kalandula and Ruacana waterfalls, two of Africa’s largest by volume and width, respectively and the Quiçama National Park – the only national park in the country.
Angola’s national animal is the giant sable antelope. Angola is also home to lions, leopards and larger animals such as elephants and giraffes, though the country’s civil war had a severely damaging impact on its wildlife. Gorillas and chimpanzees are considered endangered in Angola due to issues with illegal poaching. The country’s national plant is the Welwitschia, which is found in Angola’s desert region. Other native flora includes the African baobab, commonly found in the Mayumbe forest, eucalyptus, pine and cypress trees and various species of grass plants, including the Angolan streptolophus, commonly found in the grasslands and savannas.
Current environmental issues include desertification, water purification problems and deforestation.
PRINCIPAL LEGISLATION AND REGULATOR
The environmental laws and regulations relevant to the mining industry in Angola include: the General Environmental Law 1998 (GEL); Decree No. 51/04 on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) (EIA Decree); Decree No. 59/07 on Environmental Licensing (Licensing Decree); Decree No. 96/09 on Environmental Licence Fees; Decree No. 09/11 on Establishing an Environmental Fund; Decree No. 92/12 on Terms of Reference for the EIA; and Decree No.87/12 on Public Consultations. The Mining Code 2011 (MC) itself also contains provisions relevant to environmental protection, the EIA process and rehabilitation / reclamation.
Environmental matters in Angola are overseen by the Ministry of the Environment (Ministério do Ambiente (MINAMB)) headed by a Minister of the same title (Environmental Minister). Under the terms of the EIA Decree, the EIA is overseen by both the MINAMB and the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Petroleum (MIREMPET) (Art. 11, EIA Decree). The MINAMB shall carry out the EIA process and forward an opinion to the MIREMPET prior to the licensing of any project (Art. 13, EIA Decree).
Generally speaking, holders of mining rights are under an obligation to promote the conservation and protection of nature and the environment, complying with the requirements of environmental laws and regulations (Art. 64(1), MC). During exploitation, rights holders are also under an obligation to observe basic laws on the environment, biological and aquatic resources, waters, and standards for assessing environmental impact (Art. 64(2), MC).
Article 65, MC requires that an EIA be conducted and approved as a precondition for obtaining a Mining Title (Art. 65(1), MC). In addition, the EIA Decree requires an EIA assessment for those activities listed in the Annex, which in the case of mining, includes deep drillings, extraction of metallic minerals, open cast mining of certain other minerals, large scale ore extraction and the installation of various facilities (see Art. 4 & Annex, EIA Decree). The GEL also mandates the completion of an EIA project for all undertakings which have an impact on the balance and well-being of the environment and society (Art. 16, GEL), requiring environmental licensing prior to the issuance of project specific rights (Art. 17, GEL).
EIA and Project Approval
The EIA process must be completed only be companies and professionals registered with the State (see Arts. 29 – 31, Licensing Decree). It should be noted that, under the terms of the MC, the principle of tacit approval of an EIA shall not apply to mining projects (Art. 65(2), MC).
In the first instance, an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) must be carried out and submitted to the MINAMB via the MIREMPET (Art. 4-5, EIA Decree). The EIA Decree requires that the EIS contain: a description of the project; the EIS report; technological and alternative locations for the project; assessment of the environmental impacts at each project stage; the area to be impacted; the compatibility or existence of other government plans and programmes in the area; and any other important information (Art. 6, EIA Decree). The decree also sets out minimum technical assessment requirements for the EIS, which include:
- An environmental diagnosis of the project area which considers the physical environment, biological environment and natural ecosystems and the socio-economic environment;
- Analysis of the environmental impacts of the project and any alternatives including positive and negative impacts, the duration of such impacts, the potential to reverse such impacts and the distribution of the social burden and benefits;
- Mitigation measures for negative impacts; and
- A programme for monitoring the environmental impacts (Art. 7, EIA Decree).
Additional guidance on the EIS can be found under Decree No. 92/12 which provides Terms of Reference (TOR) for the study. Specific TOR applicable to each individual project are approved by the Environmental Minister (Art 2, Decree No. 92/12). A model TOR is provided in Annex III of Decree No. 92/12.
After submission of the EIS, a public consultation must take place for a period of between five to ten days (Art. 10, EIA Decree; see also Art. 9, Decree No. 87/12). Decree No. 87/12 provides terms for public consultations, with the aim of ensuring that public opinions are collected, rights and interests are protected, information is disclosed, and any relevant opinions or complaints are considered (Art. 3, Decree No. 87/12). Consultations are carried out during a public session, overseen by a committee including a President, Secretary and Rapporteur (Arts. 4-6, Decree No. 87/12). Registration for consultations is open to the public, who can present questions and comments orally and in writing (Arts. 10-11, Decree No. 87/12). Consultations shall begin with the publication of the non-technical summary of the EIS, describing the most important impacts the project may have on the environment (Art. 8, Decree No. 82/12). The minutes of any consultation shall be signed by the committee and form a basis for the technical opinion on the licensing of the project (Art. 13, Decree No. 87/12). A report shall be prepared within eight days of a consultation detailing participation, next steps and any conclusions (Art. 15, Decree No. 87/12; see also Art. 10, EIA Decree).
The EIS and consultation forms part of the wider EIA process. The EIA Decree sets out general documentation requirements for the EIA, with similar terms found under the GEL. Pursuant to Article 9, EIA Decree, the EIA documentation must include: a non-technical summary of the project; a description of the planned activities; a general description of the environmental situation in the planned location; a summary of the opinions and criticisms collected through the public consultation; a description of the possible environmental and social changes the project may cause; an indication of the measures to eliminate or minimise such changes; and an indication of the systems for monitoring and controlling environmental impacts (see also Art. 16, GEL). The environmental laws and decrees are supplemented by requirements under the MC, which provides additional requirements for an EIA for mining activities. Alongside the aforementioned documentation, the MC requires that an EIA include: an environmental management plan; an environmental monitoring programme; environmental audits; rehabilitation programmes; site abandonment plan; environmental financial costs; a financial guarantee for environmental costs; plans for water use; waste management plans; and provisions for the control of dangerous substances (Art. 66, MC).
Within 90 days of receipt of the environmental documentation, the MINAMB shall forward its opinion on the project to the MIREMPET, along with the report from the public consultation (Art. 12, EIA Decree). As noted above tacit approvals shall not apply in relation to mining projects (see Art. 65(2), MC with reference to Art. 12(2), EIA Decree). The legal framework is lacking clear criteria upon which MINAMB’s opinion shall be based. Should the MINAMB issue a negative opinion, the project shall not be licensed (Art. 13(1), EIA Decree). Appeals are possible via the administrative courts on the general terms of administrative procedure (Art. 13(2), EIA Decree). Decisions on projects are publicly announced (Art. 14, EIA Decree).
Following the completion and positive approval of the EIA, an Environmental Licence must be obtained prior to the issuance of a Mining Title (Art. 17, GEL). Licences are issued by the MINAMB on application (Arts. 4-5, Licensing Decree). The application must include: a description of the installation, the nature and extent of its activities; a certificate from the Provincial Government, stating that the location and the installation / activity are in conformity with the relevant legislation; a non-technical evaluation of the EIS; a binding opinion on the project from the MIREMPET; and the EIA report (Art. 6, Licensing Decree).
The MINAMB must reach a decision on licensing within 90 days (Art. 8, Licensing Decree). Licences may be refused on various grounds, including where the activity: does not meet the requisite standards and requirements in relation to pollution, health and safety etc.; endangers the public health or environment; creates excessive levels of pollution; or does not have an EIA (Art. 15, Licensing Decree). The report detailing the decision on licensing must contain a summary of the factual and legal reasons for the decision (Art. 7, Licensing Decree).
If the licence application is successful, the proponent will receive two licences in succession (Arts. 11-13, Licensing Decree) - an Environmental Installation Licence followed by an Environmental Operating Licence. The Installation Licence authorises the work set out in the approved project description (Art. 12, Licensing Decree). The Operating Licence is issued after an audit to ensure the terms and requirements of the EIS are being satisfied (Art. 13, Licensing Decree). The Operating Licence will include various information including best practice methods and techniques, emission limit values and monitoring terms, protective measures and information on waste management, and obligations relating to environmental incidents (Art. 14, Licensing Decree).
The Operating Licence is valid for between three to eight years (Art. 14(g), Licensing Decree). A licence is renewable subject to an audit and notification of any changes that are not included in previous descriptions (Art. 16, Licensing Decree). Fees are payable prior to the issuance of each licence type with rates based on a percentage of investment, a 20% rate increase applies for mining activities (see Annex, Decree No. 96/09).
Licences may be suspended or revoked in certain circumstances, including where the licensed activity is not carried out or the facilities are unused without justification for a period of one year or more (Art. 18, Licensing Decree). Licences are non-transferable (Art. 19, Licensing Decree).