Peru simplifies procedures for approval of environmental studies, water use permits

Headquarters of the Peruvian Ministry of Energy and Mines. (Image by Minem).

The Peruvian Ministry of Energy and Mines (Minem) issued a supreme decree ordering the simplification of environmental certification procedures and water use permits required for mining exploration.

According to decree N° 028-2023-EM, title holders may simultaneously process the approval of environmental impact studies and water use authorizations required for mining exploration. In other words, the evaluation and opinion issued by the National Water Authority (ANA) during its examination of environmental impact studies, will be enough support for it to also grant authorizations for water use.

The new directive also contemplates that the Minem will receive and process all the documentation required to advance environmental impact assessments and water use permits.

“Once the ministry approves the environmental study, with a prior favourable opinion from the ANA, it will notify the Water Authority to grant the authorization for water use without the need for the title holder to initiate a new procedure,” the ministry noted in a media statement.

“If title holders do not opt for simultaneous processing, now, under S.D. No. 028-2023-EM, they may process the authorization for water use immediately after obtaining approval of the environmental study.”

According to Minem, these procedures are expected to cut processing times as before the issuance of the new decree, water use permits could only be issued once environmental impact studies had been approved and miners received the go-ahead to start exploration activities. 

The government department also announced that it will soon be approving a series of modifications to the regulatory framework that relates to the content of environmental impact studies. The goal is to stop asking titleholders to present paperwork that does not directly or indirectly affect the technical evaluation of their proposal.

“These measures will considerably reduce the processing times needed to obtain approval of environmental impact studies and authorizations for water use, without this leading to a relaxation of the technical quality of these evaluations,” the release states.

Peru, the world’s No. 2 copper producer after Chile, has been working since November on a series of measures to reactivate the country’s economy, with a particular focus on the mining, energy and oil and gas sectors.

In addition to the recent decree, the Peruvian executive has said it will issue 13 new standards aimed at managing and regulating mining exploration and operational activities.  

Peru officials have also ramped up efforts to attract mining investments by presenting the country at international fora as a place of macroeconomic solidity and favourable regulatory frameworks.