It may not be at the forefront of your mind when you are busy organising a drilling operation but the British Geological Survey (BGS) have been reminding mining and drilling operators of their legal obligations to provide information on that drilling to BGS.
The Mining Industry Act 1926 requires:
- Prior notification to the BGS of the intention to sink boreholes and shafts for minerals of over 30 metres;
- A record to be kept of the operations with details of the nature and thickness of strata and the depth at which each bed was located;
- Retain strata specimens for at least 6 months;
- Allow authorised BGS officials access to those records, specimens and the shaft or borehole itself (which may mean that appropriate rights to allow access should be included in any licence agreement where the operator is carrying out exploration on land owned by a third party) and to take copies of those records and to take specimens of the core or fragments.
Similar requirements are in place under the Water Resources Act 1991 in relation to the sinking of new wells and boreholes for water to a depth of more than 15 metres. In both cases, failure to comply with these requirements is a criminal offence and the BGS has said that action has been taken recently in relation to non-compliance.
Providers of such information may have well founded concerns over confidentiality in relation to any information made available to the BGS. In terms of confidentiality the provider of information can request that the information is held as commercial-in-confidence and the maximum period for which the BGS will normally hold information as confidential is 4 years although longer periods can be discussed. However, any such confidentiality will be subject to freedom of information legislation requirements and in particular the EU derived Environmental Information Regulations.