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Part A: General Topics | 9. Ownership of Geological Data

Ownership of minerals is deemed to be distinct from ownership of mineral geological information. While mining laws generally allow mining licence holders to collect geological data under the terms of their license, they generally do not explicitly detail who owns the generated geological data. Liberia specifies that when the Minister of Mines authorizes a scientific or geological investigation, all ensuing data will be provided to the Ministry who will keep the data confidential for up to 3 years at the request of the entity who conducted the research. Congo-Brazzaville also specifically obliges exploration license holders to turn over all geological data to the State upon the termination of the license. While these instances can be deemed to infer government ownership of the data, it is not clear. Generally, the discussion of geological data revolves around the obligation of licence holders to maintain geological data records (Namibia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Botswana, and Nigeria), the right to obtain data from government agencies (Mozambique, Tanzania) and in some cases the reciprocal responsibility of licence holders to provide geological data to government entities (Ghana). To promote clarity in the law, it is helpful for the mining law to explicitly address the ownership of geological data collected by companies and mineral rights holders given that it is valued and monetizable information. Some laws (petroleum or mining) provide for government ownership of geological data collected by companies but may include rights for companies to use the data in relation to a specific project.

9. Example:

Article [_]

Subject to any right conferred under any provision of this [Act][Law][Code]:

(1) All geological data and its supports belongs to the [State]. The mining rights holder shall submit, every year during the first 90 days of the year, all data generated during its (exploration/exploitation) activity and the required supports (stones, samples, etc.).

(2) The [Regulating Authority] shall issue regulations specifying the format of the information delivered. In any case, such information shall be delivered in technological support and in a format internationally accepted by the mining industry.

(3) Geological information shall remain confidential. Neither the [State] nor the mining rights holder shall share this information with third parties, except when they require technical advice. In such case, the third party shall commit to keep the confidentiality.

(4) The mining rights holder shall take appropriate legal, technical and security measures to prevent its directors, agents and employees to share the information with third parties.

(5) At the issuance of the mining right, the [State] shall provide the mining rights holder all the geological data available referred to the area of the mining right. The mining rights holder may use such information as well as any other information generated during the (exploration/exploitation) phase.

Annotation

This suggested example vests ownership of geological data in the State and provides for procedures that support ownership of the data by the State, including clear requirements on data transfer to the State. The example also applies strict confidentiality to geological data, only available on a need to know basis for advisers of the State, Mineral Right holders and their related third parties. The issue of level of confidentially applicable to geological data continues to be a debated area and each locality may need to grapple with the issue in the wider context of transparency and its relationship to marketable information.