Mining Circular Case


On 31.12.2019, Circular No. 173/12/2019 was issued by the Director-General of Geological Survey and Mines Bureau (GSMB) to amend the mining permits/licenses issuing procedure on the ground that there is a delay in issuing permits/licenses to applicants. The said Circular No. 173/12/2019 repealed Circular No.118/05/2015 which mandated the obtaining of Environmental Clearances from the Central Environmental Authority in the mining permit/licenses issuing procedure of the GSMB. In terms of the said Circular No. 173/12/2019, GSMB can issue mining permits/licenses to applicants who have not complied with environmental recommendations of the Central Environmental Authority.

EFL together with Wildlife and Nature Protection Society, filed a Fundamental Rights application in the Supreme Court on 06.02.2020 in view of the infringement and imminent infringement of the Petitioners’ fundamental rights and those of the People of Sri Lanka, by the removing of the aforesaid existing procedural safeguards in the system for the protection of the environment, pertaining to the issuance of permits for mining, and exposing the environment to a serious imminent threat of pollution. GSMB, the Director-General of GSMB, Minister of Environment and Wildlife Resources, Central Environmental Authority and the Attorney-General were named as Respondents.

The case was supported on 22.03.2022 and the Supreme Court granted Leave to Proceed and issued an Interim Order until the final determination of the Case, suspending the part of Circular No. 173/12/2019 which removed Environmental Clearance.


When the case came up on the 23rd of November 2023, Mr. Viran Corea appearing for the Petitioner stated that the new circular filed by way of Motion by the State has revoked the impugned circular and thus the matter can be terminated. Nevertheless, it was brought to the notice of the Court that there is an error in paragraph 4 of the circular whereby as per the National Environmental Act the wording should be “approval” and not “recommendations”. The State Attorney undertook to inform the State authority of the error and obtain instructions. Thereafter, the matter was terminated.