Updated Conditions for Access to Geological Information
The Cabinet of Ministry of Ukraine (“CMU”) updated the Conditions for Access to Geological Information (approved by CMU Resolution dated November 7, 2018 no. 939), which regulate main aspects of producing and using geological information.
As geological information is crucial both for subsoil users and the state, the Conditions for Access to Geological Information (the “Conditions”) were improved in order to systemize and digitalize geological information and facilitate access to it. The amendments to the Conditions, approved by CMU Resolution no. 64 dated January 29, 2020 (came into force on February 15, 2020), are described in the Alert below.
- Access to state owned geological information;
- Digitalization of geological information;
- Amendments in the definition of primary (geodata) and processed geological information;
- Remaining problematic aspects of access to geological information.
Access to state owned geological information
The updated version of the Conditions contains several provisions that simplify access to state-owned geological information, particularly, to primary geological information (geodata).
New wording of para 8 of the Conditions stipulates that geodata is provided to subsoil users on a contractual basis. It also prescribes that the state has an obligation to provide access to study primary geodata – in its primary form and place of storage – free of charge. The wording of the Conditions prescribes that access to other forms of primary information, i.e. those which are stored not in primary form and in storage, are provided on a paid basis.
Most likely the approach introduced will be developed in course of practical application of these provisions, and if have problems in implementations the document may be detailed by further amendments.
Such an amendment is important from the point of view of deciding whether or not to purchase geological information. Having the right to familiarize oneself with data free of charge gives subsoil users the ability to evaluate its relevance, and thus, whether or not to purchase it.
The updated Conditions prescribe that a methodology is used for calculating the price for both geodata and processed geological information (para 13). Also, the Cabinet of Ministers has instructed the State Service for Geology and Subsoil to prepare an updated version of such methodology within 6 months (para 2 of the Resolution).
In the updated version of the Conditions it is also clarified that state-owned geological information is owned by the State Service on Geology and Subsoil, whereas in the previous version of the Conditions there was only a vague definition that state-owned geological information was geological information created using funds of the state budget.
Digitalization of the geological information
Several amendments introduced to the Conditions relate to the digitalization of geological information and access to it.
Starting from February 15, a previous provision prescribing that exclusively “Geoinform of Ukraine” ensures the digitalization of geological information, including for the purpose of cataloguing, is removed from the text of the Conditions.
From entry into force of the Conditions, digitalized geological information must be provided to subsoil users in electronic form upon receipt of a special permit for subsoil use, with an indication of the address and conditions of use of geological information that cannot be digitalized due to its physical condition.
In addition, point 3 of the CMU Resolution no. 64 dated January 29, 2020 instructs the State Geology and Subsoil Service of Ukraine to publish online, considering restrictions under the Law of Ukraine “On State Secrets”, information on current protocols on approval of reserves and resources of minerals.
Amended definition of primary (geodata) and processed geological information
Compared to the initial text of the Conditions, the updated version excludes from the list of primary geological information (geodata) catalogues of coordinated cartograms of deposits, applicable exploration area, profiles, boreholes, points of examination and drawings of samples. In terms of processed geological information, the updated version of the Conditions does not include protocols of approval of identified mineral reserves and resources and standards on mineral resources. At the same time, the results of processing of core samples and geological-geophysical examinations, including those in digital form, are now clearly indicated in the list of the processed geological information.
Experts in the sphere of geology perceive such amendments as controversial, as they somehow may limit the scope of accessible geological information. At the same time, state bodies do not accept this position and assert that such information should not be included in the scope of geological information.
Remaining problematic issues in terms of access to geological information
Even though recent amendments made access to state-owned geological information possible, the further activities of the Government in this sphere are of high importance. In particular, the current version of the Methodology for calculating the price of geological information is applicable only to processed geological information. In this regard, it is important that the methodology for calculating the price of primary geological information (geodata) is approved as soon as possible, without delaying it to the end of the six-month term prescribed as the time limit in the CMU Resolution.
Recent amendments to the Conditions provide subsoil users with the opportunity to study geodata free of charge. While this is a major step forward, adoption of the new Methodology for calculating the price of state-owned primary geological information is still crucial.
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