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The Bergregal (principles of mining law) regulates the property rights for mineral resources. In Switzerland, it is mostly determined by the cantons. Energy and ore resources as well as salt are usually included therein.

Old mining wheelbarrow from the Silberberg near Davos
Old mining wheelbarrow from the Silberberg near Davos. The mine at Silberberg was one of the most productive lead-zinc mines in Switzerland.


The Bergregal is the right of ownership of unexploited mineral resources. The term is derived from the word “regalia” i.e. the rights of the king (mining sovereignty). Today in Switzerland, the mineral rights are held by the cantons. Only in Graubünden has the canton transferred the mineral rights to the municipalities.

Who can assert the rights regarding mineral resources

In the context of mineral resources, the interests of three groups must be safeguarded:

  • the rights of the land owner: he/she can assert that his/her property extends into the body of earth below the surface
  • the rights of the state: it can assert that it, as owner, has the rights over the mineral resources. Moreover, it represents the interests of the public.
  • the rights of the exploiting party: it can assert that only it can ensure an efficient extraction.

This can lead to conflicts of interest. Mining law therefore lays down the legal regulations.

Mining law fundamentals

According to the Swiss civil code (Art. 664 ZGB) the federal government entrusts the disposal and legislative rights over public and unclaimed property, which includes underground mineral resources, to the cantons. It waives a right to it. The cantons can claim their mineral rights or reestablish them. They can also forego thereon and attribute the mineral rights to the ownership of the land.
Thus, the mining law and the list of mineral resource rights differ strongly from canton to canton.
Mineral resources, which are excluded from the property ownership, are designated as sovereign or free-from-mining-law mineral resources. They are exclusively enumerated in the law.
In contrast, the property mineral resources are the property of the landowner. Today, land ownership is usually limited by mining law.

With a license for exploration and exploitation of mineral resources, the planning and building regulations, environmental impact assessments and safety regulations must be observed In addition to the regulations controlled by the mining law.

Who is who

Because the mining sovereignty applies to the cantons, the cantonal authorities are responsible for all mining related legal queries. Only in Graubünden has the canton transferred the mineral rights to the municipalities.

The cantonal administrations can be reached as follows in the internet:

http://www. + canton shortcut + .ch

There are telephone numbers, addresses and E-mail addresses on the respective canton page under “Contact“.

Coal deposits of the Freshwater Molasse in canton Zug
Coal deposits of the Freshwater Molasse in canton Zug. For mining, the mining law provisions of the canton Zug would apply here.


For cantons with cantonal mining law, the following overview provides links to the legislative and constitutional texts.


Depending on the canton, there are:

  • constitutional principles
  • mining law provisions in the cantonal introduction to the Swiss Civil Code
  • own legislation on mining law
  • no legislation on mining law

Where the cantons do not have their own legislation, the mining law principles are listed in the constitution. The constitutional texts of all cantons are accessible on the website of the federal government:
Cantonal constitution texts

Where the cantons have their own mining legislation, the relevant constitution text is linked. In some cantons, no link is available, for others, the constitution text is linked.

  • AG  
  • AI no link available
  • AR
  • BE
  • BL
  • BS no link available
  • FR no link available
  • GE  (in French)
  • GL
  • GR  In canton Graubünden's constitution, the mining law is enshrined on the municipalities.
  • JU  (in French)
  • LU  
  • NE  (in French)
  • NW
  • OW
  • SG
  • SH
  • SO
  • SZ
  • TG  
  • TI no link available
  • UR  
  • VD no link available
  • VS  
  • ZG no link available
  • ZH

Mineral Resources

ETH Zurich Department of Earth Sciences
Georesources Switzerland Group
NO F35
Sonneggstrasse 5
CH-8092 Zurich
+41 44 632 37 28