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Part B: Mineral Rights - Part B-4: ASM Licencing - 28. Artisanal Mining | 28.8. Renewal of License

Renewal of AM licence provisions establish the duration of the licence renewal period, the number of times renewal is permitted and the conditions for renewals. As noted in the previous section on Term of Licence, the initial period of validity of an AM licences tends to be short (1-3 years) for a variety of reasons. On the other hand, there exist deposits of precious minerals and stones that are suitable for mining by artisanal methods for many years. Historically, artisanal mining has been conducted for many years (and even centuries) at certain sites (e.g., silver at Potosi, Bolivia; emeralds in Colombia; lapis lazuli in Afghanistan; bronze in Nigeria, etc.). Most African mining laws address the longevity issue by not limiting the number of renewals available. However, the renewal periods are kept short like the initial term in the interest of government policing of possible abusive practices and environmental damage; but the need for frequent renewals can be burdensome on licence holders and exposes them to uncertainty about their ability to continue operating from year to year. A counterargument is that if they are not able to graduate to a SSM license that requires some mechanization and greater responsibilities, then the AM licence is not serving the goal of fostering indigenous development of the mining sector and therefore is not a practice that should be encouraged on a long-term basis.

Conditions under which renewal will be granted should be set in the mining law; and these include the following:

  • having met all the requirements of the AM licence such as the payment of fees and royalties, and compliance with regulations on environmental, health, safety and mine development practices;
  • there being enough resource to be exploited in the renewal period.

28.8. Example 1:

Article [_]

(1) Subject to subsection (2), an artisanal mining licence shall be valid for a period of one year and may be renewed for up to three further periods not exceeding one year at a time

(2) An artisanal mining licence shall not be renewed pursuant to subsection (1)–

(a)if the artisanal mining licence area has ceased to be an area declared for artisanal mining operations;

(b)in respect of any mineral which has ceased to be a mineral prescribed for artisanal mining operations;

(c)unless the [Regulating Authority] is satisfied that the applicant has carried on, in good faith, within the limits of its competence and resources, mining operations in the artisanal mining licence area and intends to continue doing so;

(d)if the applicant has not carried out effective rehabilitation and reclamation of the applicant’s mined out areas to the satisfaction of the [Regulating Authority] and authorities responsible for the protection of the environment or paid the prescribed fee;

(e)if the applicant has not reported diligently on its mining operations; or

(f) if the applicant is in default and the [Regulating Authority] is not prepared to waive the default.

Annotation

Drawn from Sierra Leone’s mining law (2009), this example allows up to three renewals for one year each, such that the total duration of the validity of the AM licence could be as long as four years. Each renewal is subject to the conditions specified with respect to continuing recognition of the area and the mineral as being appropriate for AM, and compliance of the licence holder with his various obligations.

This is an example of an AM licensing regime based on a policy of not permitting AM for long, indeterminate periods and forcing AM practitioners to either graduate to SSM in order to keep a site for a longer term or move to another site.

28.8. Example 2:

Article [_]

(1) A holder of an artisan's mining right may apply to the [Regulating Authority] at least sixty days before the expiry of the artisan's mining right, for the renewal of the artisan's mining right in the prescribed manner and form upon payment of the prescribed fee

(2) Subject to subsection (3), the [Regulating Authority] shall, where an application for the renewal of an artisan's mining right complies with the requirements of this [Act][Code][Law], renew the artisan's mining right for a period not exceeding two years, on such terms and conditions as the [Regulating Authority] may determine.

(3) The [Regulating Authority] shall reject an application for renewal of an artisan's mining right where—

(a) the development of the mining area has not proceeded with reasonable diligence;

(b) minerals in workable quantities do not remain to be produced;

(c) the programme of the intended mining operations will not ensure the proper conservation and use in the national interest of the mineral resources of the mining area; or

(d) the applicant is in breach of any condition of the right or any provision of this [Act][Code][Law].

(4) The [Regulating Authority] shall not reject an application on any ground referred to in—

(a) paragraph (a) of subsection (3), unless the [Regulating Authority] has given the applicant the details of the default and the applicant has failed to remedy the default within three months of the notification;

(b) paragraph (b) of subsection (3) unless the [Regulating Authority] has given the applicant reasonable opportunity to make written representations thereon to the [Regulating Authority] ; or

(c) paragraph (c) of subsection (3) unless the [Regulating Authority] has notified the applicant and the applicant has failed to propose amendments to the operations within three months of the notification.

(5) The [Regulating Authority] shall, on the renewal of an artisan’s mining right, attach to the licence the approved program of mining operations to be carried out in the period of renewal.

Annotation

Drawn from Zambia’s mining law (2008), this example provides for unlimited renewals of a longer term AM right (i.e., 2 years) than the preceding example. The longer term of the renewal period corresponds to the longer initial Term of the AM right under the Zambian mining law and puts less of a burden on the license holder than the annual renewal provision of the preceding example. The lack of a limit on the number of renewals provides greater flexibility to the Regulating Authority and provides potentially greater stability to the licence holder who is able to meet all of his obligations.

This example both provides explicit conditions that the licence holder must meet in order to be granted a renewal of the licence and also requires that the licence holder be given notice and an opportunity to correct any deficiencies. It thereby seeks to strike a balance between the Regulating Authority surveillance of AM practices and enforcement of standards on the one hand, and the artisanal miner’s desire for a reasonable amount of stability and security of title, on the other hand. In exchange for the possibility of unlimited renewals, the licence holder is subject to an approved work programme so as to avoid holders tying up areas without production.