Mines that overlap national forests will not be given development permits, a Forestry Bureau official said yesterday, adding that a new formula for calculating the rental price of forest land is to be revealed next year.
Control Yuan Vice President Sun Ta-chuan (孫大川) and Control Yuan member Lin Ya-feng (林雅鋒) on Thursday criticized the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Council of Agriculture for their management of mines and national forests.
Their report said there were 13 mines — covering a total of 131 hectares — within national forests as of August.
However, the development of some mines stopped long after the miners’ land leases from the council came due, with some leases even passing their deadlines by more than six years, it said.
In renting out forest land to miners, the council charged unreasonably low rents — about 4 percent of the annual interest of the land value — without considering the “environmental cost” of the mining, the officials said.
Sun and Lin demanded that the two agencies re-examine their regulations regarding mining development to prevent disasters in the wake of over-exploitation.
“Most of the mines in national forests were granted permits long ago,” the bureau said on Friday in a press release. “The bureau will not give approval to new requests from mines that overlap national forests.”
Since 2014, the bureau had asked realty experts to reassess the value of national forest land by referring to the “market price” of adjacent land, bureau Deputy Director-General Yang Hong-chi (楊宏志) said yesterday, adding that the bureau has since increased rents by 50 percent.
The bureau has also initiated research on the environmental cost of mines and plans to announce a new formula for the rental of national forest land next year, he said.
According to Article 38 of the Mining Act (礦業法), agencies supervising miners can revoke their mining rights if they stop development for more than one year or do not begin exploitation two years after they obtain the permit.
The bureau plans to negotiate with the Ministry of Economic Affairs about phasing out mines in national forests, Yang said.
As an amendment to the act is to be reviewed in this legislative session, new regulations covering mines would be incorporated into the amendment after the two agencies arrive at a decision, Yang added.
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