HC Deb 08 July 1971 vol 820 cc441-2W
Mr. Alan Williams

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action he now proposes to take to encourage the mineral industry to explore and prove mineral resources.

Sir J. Eden

This country has considerable potential for mineral development and we have been considering how to encourage mining companies to prove our mineral resources so that they can be used to best advantage. Exploration and evaluation involve exceptional and unavoidable risks and, even when successful, it takes a very long time before expenditure can be recovered. We propose, therefore, to meet 35 per cent. of the cost of work done by mining companies in exploring for and evaluating deposits of certain minerals in Great Britain. The scheme will be confined to non-ferrous metal ores and to barium minerals, fluorspar and potash. It will be administered in a selective manner; financial assistance will be given only to approved projects and will be recovered in those cases which result in the development of a productive mine. The necessary legislation, which will be introduced as soon as possible, will permit expenditure up to £25 million on the scheme with provision for a further £25 million if necessary.

The scheme will, of course, in no way affect the operation of the normal planning controls under the Town and Country Planning Acts.

The details of the scheme will now be settled in consultation with the mining industry, and it will come into effect as soon as possible. In the meantime, I hope that the mining companies will consider how they can make use of the scheme and will be drawing up their proposals for exploration to put forward to the Department.