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Part B: Mineral Rights - Part B-4: ASM Licencing | 27. Small Scale Licencing

Artisanal mining (AM) and small scale mining (SSM) are terms used to define the sub-sectors of the mining industry in Africa within which individuals, groups, cooperatives and local or small regional/international companies other than state-owned enterprises operate, using methods that are labour intensive rather than capital and technology intensive. The mining activities of these subsectors generally focus on precious metals and gemstones, semi-precious gemstones, decorative stones and rock collections, and industrial or quarrying minerals but can also include metallic minerals such as cobalt, coltan, tungsten. They supply, among other markets, the national jewellery, craft and construction industries. The definitions of artisanal mining and small scale mining in African mining laws vary widely, as do the practices associated with both such sub-sectors. Indeed, some mining laws distinguish among “artisanal” mining, “mechanized artisanal mining” (e.g., Mali 2012), “lightly mechanized mining” (e.g. Cameroon, 2014 Regulation) or “semi-industrial mining” (Côte d’Ivoire 2014) and “small scale” mining (e.g., Ghana, 2006).

Whether and how much to distinguish among different gradations of artisanal and small scale mining (ASM) depends on the types of activity taking place in a given jurisdiction, the degree of homogeneity or differentiation among the policy objectives with respect to the different types of activity, and an assessment of the need for differentiation in treatment of them in order to achieve the policy objectives. It is recommended that in all cases, the title of a licence or authorization be clearly associated with well-defined and readily recognizable activities. Where a mining law addresses one or multiple types of ASM, the type of activity and the related licence or authorizations should be defined clearly and used consistently throughout the law to avoid confusion.

This Section addresses the elements of a legal regime for small scale mining, while Section 27 addresses the elements of a legal regime for artisanal mining. In this Section, SSM is defined as mineral exploitation that has the following characteristics:

    (a)it takes place at a fixed site,

    (b)partially mechanized processes are utilized for the extraction - with or without processing - of minerals and the production and marketing of mineral products,

    (c)the deposit that is the subject of SSM is not suitable for large scale exploitation, and

    (d)either -

    (i)the production volumes do not exceed a specified maximum amount, or

    (ii)the investment in the SSM project does not exceed a specified maximum amount.

The general policy objective for SSM is usually to provide preferential access into the sector to nationals and to support the development of local mining entrepreneurs by facilitating national investment in reasonably capitalized domestic ventures that have the capacity to grow.