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Part B: Mineral Rights - Part B-4: ASM Licencing - 27. Small Scale Licencing | 27.4. Area

Provisions discussing the area of small scale licensing should provide for spatial limits that respond to: what mineral is being exploited; the location, concentration and continuity of the deposit, as defined by exploration work carried out; the relation to other licence categories; and whether or not contiguous licence areas are permitted. The shape of the area should conform to the standard shape requirements of the mining cadastre, which may be a polygon with a minimum and maximum number and length of sides prescribed or one composed of uniform cadastral units, as set out in the law. This section may also provide for the creation of special designated areas set aside for SSM operations in which the issuance of other mining rights will not be permitted.

Since small scale mining is generally defined by limits as to the minerals that can be exploited and the amount of investment or production involved, SSM licence areas are generally restricted to a size significantly smaller than areas for large scale exploitation. Due to these limitations, SSM is not suitable for the exploitation of widely disseminated mineralization requiring removal of very large tonnage of overburden and extensive processing of relatively low grade ore deposits. SSM is suited to the exploitation of relatively high grade deposits that are too small for large scale exploitation and that can be effectively mined out within a short term of a few years. On the other hand, if the targeted minerals are phosphates, salt, sand or gravel located near the surface in a dense concentration extending over a large area that can be mined effectively by a small scale mining operation, a larger licence area may be justified. Hence, it is desirable for the mining law to contain enough flexibility to accommodate these various scenarios.

27.4. Example 1:

Article [_]

(1) Subject to the provisions of this Part, a person wishing to conduct small scale mining operations may apply for a minerals permit to conduct such operations for any mineral other than diamonds over an area not exceeding 0.5 km2 per permit.

(2) The holder of a minerals permit shall, within three months of the issue thereof, demarcate the area covered by such permit in such manner as may be prescribed.

Article [_]

The [Regulating Authority] may make regulations for the better carrying into effect of this [Act][Code][Law] and, in particular and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, regulations may provide for the following matters or purposes—

(a) prescribing anything which in terms of this [Act][Code][Law] is to or may be prescribed;

(b) for making of returns of minerals won and for the valuation of such minerals, and the sampling, weighing and testing of any mineral;

(c) the shape of the areas over which mineral concessions may be granted;

(d) the manner in which areas and boundaries shall be marked, beaconed and surveyed;

(e) the gathering of fuel wood and the cutting and use of timber for the purposes of carrying on prospecting and mining operations;

(f) the returns to be rendered and the nature of the accounts, books and plans to be kept by the holders of mineral concessions;

(g) the fees to be paid in respect of any matter or thing done under this [Act][Code][Law] ; and

(h) the protection of the environment.


Drawn from Botswana’s mining law (1999), this provision limits the size of a SSM licence (“minerals permit”) area to half of a square kilometre (i.e., 50 hectares.) It does not permit any exceptions, but it also does not limit the number of SSM licenses that can be held by a single holder.

The provision also requires the permit holder to demarcate the SSM permit area within three (3) months of the issuance of the permit “in such manner as may be prescribed”.

The general article on REGULATIONS clarifies that the rules on the shape of areas and how their boundaries are to be demarcated are to be established by the Regulating Authority.

27.4. Example 2:

Article [_]

(1) No small-scale mining licence shall be granted to an applicant in an area designated under section 30 for artisanal mining operations.

(2) No person other than the holder of an exploration licence shall be granted a small-scale mining licence in respect of land which constitutes the exploration licence area or part of the exploration area.

(3) Where the [Regulating Authority] considers that it is in the public interest to encourage exploration and mining of minerals in any area by methods not involving substantial expenditure or the use of specialised technology, [it] may by notice in [the Gazette], declare that area for licensing of artisanal or small-scale mining operations and Part [_] and Part [_] shall apply.

(4) A notice by the [Regulating Authority] under subsection (1) may prescribe that particular minerals or all minerals in the declared area are subject to the notice.

(5) The [Regulating Authority] may, by notice in [the Gazette] vary or revoke any notice published under subsection (2).

(6) A small-scale mining licence area shall not be less than one hectare and not more than one hundred hectares.

(7) Every small-scale mining area shall be demarcated by an authorised officer in such manner as may be prescribed or as the authorised officer may, in the circumstances consider appropriate.

(8) The [Regulating Authority] may make regulations for the conservation and development of mines and minerals and for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of this [Act][Code][Law].

(9) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) regulations may provide for or with respect to-

(a) prescribing anything which in terms of this [Act][Code][Law] is to or may be prescribed;

(b) the manner in which applications under this [Act][Code][Law] shall be made, form of documents required and information to be supplied by applicants;

(c) the shape and size of blocks and areas over which mineral rights may be granted;

(d) the mining cadastre; ...etc.


Drawn from Sierra Leone’s mining law (2009), these provisions:

    1) prohibit the grant of a SSM licence in an area that has been reserved for AM;

    2) establish that only the holder of the exploration licence can obtain a SSM licence for any part of the area covered by the exploration license;

    3) authorize the Regulating Authority to designate certain areas as reserved for the licensing of SSM operations;

    4) permit a SSM licence area of up to 100 hectares (but not less than one hectare);

    5) require the marking of the boundaries of the SSM licence area by an authorized officer; and

    6) delegate the power to set by regulations the rules on the shape and size of licence areas.

These terms with respect to SSM licence areas are similar to, but somewhat more comprehensive than, those in Botswana’s mining law. Ironically, Sierra Leone’s provisions allow for a licence area that is twice as large as that permitted under Botswana’s mining law, despite Sierra Leone’s territory being only about one eighth the size of Botswana.

The Sierra Leone mining law does not specify a limit on the number of SSM licenses that a single person is permitted to hold – similar to Botswana’s mining law.