Mining typically may cause soil subsidence problems. In the Netherlands, that has been the case in the old coal mining district of Limburg (southern Netherlands) and also, more recently, in the new gas and salt mining areas in the north of the country. In the Province of Groningen, three decades of gas mining have caused a soil subsidence of over 35 centimetres. Furthermore, since earthquakes increasingly occur and have even passed 3.3 on the Richter scale, which is the threshold of danger to property, in the late 1990s, their relation to mining activities is no longer denied by the industry after some decades of stubborn negation. In this article, a number of reasons are presented, including arguments derived from liability under tort law (strict liability, combined with reversal of proof, as applied in Limburg since the 1920s), for why the 2003 Dutch Mining Law (as amended in 2017) does not appear to be successful in reflecting the state of the art. One would have expected more in a field with so much at stake, not just for the mining industry but also for citizens and the environment at large. Therefore, it is observed that the liability of mine operators is treated better by the legislation in adjacent European countries. The analysis of the current Dutch Mining Law, concentrating on the issue of liability for damage caused by soil subsidence and earthquakes to private property and the environment, is made from a comparative perspective, with special attention to French, German, and British mining law.

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Journal Uniform Law Review
van Dunné, J.M. (2018). Liability issues in gas and coal mining for damage caused by soil subsidence, earthquakes, and groundwater management under Dutch law or: A tale of two provinces - Groningen and Limburg. Uniform Law Review, 23(2), 354–372. doi:10.1093/ulr/uny019