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Part B: Mineral Rights - Part B-4: ASM Licencing - 28. Artisanal Mining | 28.2. Requirements for Licence Applications

As a general matter, it must be kept in mind that AM is fundamentally a poverty alleviation activity engaged in largely by individuals in rural areas who are poor and illiterate. They often lack the capacity to read instructions and to complete applications in writing; and they often live and work in areas far from urban centres where offices of the Regulating Authority are located, without the means to travel to those offices.

The requirements for AM licence applications depend on which type of regime applies to AM under a country’s mining law, and whether AM is authorized in and restricted to designated zones or is authorized in a site specific to each permit or licence.

If the mining law establishes a simple authorization system that allows the artisanal miner to work in a designated artisanal mining zone, very little may be required beyond proof of identity, nationality and address; agreement to abide by certain rules as to security, health, safety and environmental protection and rehabilitation; and payment of a fee. Often the responsibility to grant the AM authorizations under this simplified approach is delegated to the local authorities in the communities where AM zones are established.

If the mining law establishes a simple permit system that allocates specific individual sites to each permit holder, it is also necessary to require the submission of a map or the cadastral coordinates of the area for which the permit is requested. This requires more sophistication on the part of the applicant, and verification by the cadastral authority as to whether the requested site is available. The permit issuing function may be delegated by the mining law to the heads of the provincial/state/zonal offices of the Regulating Authority because of their relative proximity to the sites of AM activity.

If the mining law provides for an AM licensing regime, then the application requirements are likely to closely resemble those for a SSM licence, the difference between the AM and SSM licences being essentially the lower limit on investment and/or production applicable to the AM licence and the ability to utilize mechanized exploitation techniques under the SSM license.

As a general matter, prior exploration to identify and evaluate a mineral deposit under an exploration licence is not required in connection with an application for an AM licence (whether it be an authorization, a permit or a licence).

Where the applicants are cooperatives, partnerships and companies, these must register with the Regulating Authority and present certified copies of their organizational documents, as well as evidence that they are wholly owned by nationals if that is a requirement.

If an AM permit or licence on a specific site is requested, it may be required to show evidence of consultation with the traditional authorities under whose jurisdiction the area that is subject of the application falls and that permission to access the land for the purpose of AM has been granted.

Fees are typically payable either with the AM application or as a condition for the grant of the AM authorization/permit/license.

28.2. Example 1:

Article [_]

(1) An application for the grant of an artisanal mining licence shall be made to the [Regulating Authority] in such form as may be prescribed.

(2) An application for the grant of an artisanal mining licence shall–

(a) be accompanied by a statement giving particulars of the capital and experience available to the applicant to conduct exploration and mining operations of the mineral efficiently and effectively;

(b) be accompanied by a plan of the area over which the licence is sought drawn in such manner as the [Regulating Authority] may require;

(c) be accompanied by documentary evidence that consent to use the land for mining purposes has been given to the applicant by the [applicable traditional authority] or rightful occupiers or owners of the land for mining purposes;

(d) shall state the period applied for;

(e) give or be accompanied by a statement giving particulars of the programme of proposed mining operations, including a statement of-

(i) the likely effects of the proposed mining operations on the environment and on the local population and proposals for mitigation and compensation measures;

(ii) any particular risks (whether to health or otherwise) involved in mining the minerals, particularly radioactive minerals, and proposals for their control or elimination;

(iii) the proposed marketing arrangements for the sale of the mineral production; and

(f) set out any other matter which the applicant wishes the Director to consider.


Drawn from Sierra Leone’s mining law (2009), this example describes the comprehensive application requirements for an AM licence that are similar to the requirements for a SSM licence. The level of sophistication required to comply with this licence application requirement is way beyond the capability of the typical AM practitioner working at the mine site. This application requirement is suitable for a situation in which sophisticated entrepreneurs obtain AM licences to specific sites and hire as employees the workers who will conduct the operations at the AM site. This is evidently a response to the reality that AM in Sierra Leone is focused largely on diamonds, as to which the imposition of a certain order and control is deemed necessary. This approach represents the most rigorous end of the spectrum of application requirements for AM licences. It would not work as a method of formalizing seasonal itinerant miners seeking to supplement their meagre incomes by finding and selling precious stones and/or metals.

28.2. Example 2

Article [_]

(1) In areas for artisanal mining, only those who hold currently valid artisanal miner's cards for the area concerned shall be authorised to mine gold, diamonds, or any other mineral substance which may be mined using artisanal methods.

(2) Artisanal miner's cards shall be issued, by the Head of the Provincial Mining Division with jurisdiction, to those who are eligible, who apply for them, and who undertake to comply with the regulations relating to environmental protection and health and safety, in artisanal mining areas, in accordance with the rules laid down in the Mining Regulations, after they have examined said regulations.

(3) When each card is issued, a set fee shall be collected, the total amount of which shall be determined in the regulations.

(4) The Mining Regulations shall lay down the terms for obtaining an artisanal miner's card.


Drawn from DRC’s mining law (2002), this article is an example of a provision from the other end of the spectrum, in comparison to the preceding example. DRC uses a simple authorization regime that enables access to designated AM zones. The authority to issue the artisanal miner cards is delegated to the Chief of the Provincial Division of Mines (the decentralized office of the Regulating Authority).

The only requirements for obtaining an AM card are as follows:

    1)Make a request for the card to the Chief of the Provincial Division of Mines;

    2)Commit to respect the regulations with respect to protection of the environment, hygiene and security in the AM zones, in accordance with the measures set in the mining regulation after having learned them; and

    3)Payment of a fixed fee.

This simple system is designed to facilitate formalization by often illiterate artisanal miners who will be authorized to working in designated zones. It assumes that officials of the Regulating Authority will explain the regulatory requirement concerning environmental protection, hygiene and security in the AM zones to applicants.