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Part B: Mineral Rights - Part B-4: ASM Licencing - 28. Artisanal Mining | 28.6. Rights of a Licence Holder

As is the case with respect to their obligations, the rights of AM licensees depend on the type of authorization/permit/licensing regime that applies to them.

If the “licence” is a simple authorization to engage in AM in a designated AM zone, granted by A local authority, the rights of the AM authorization holder tend to be limited to a non-exclusive right to work in that zone and to sell the authorized mineral products extracted. Because the AM zone has been pre-established by the mining administration, the licensee is assured of access to the site without the need to obtain other consents.

If the licence is granted as to a specific licence area, the rights granted are likely to be exclusive and also include the rights to erect necessary structures on the land, subject to the consent of the landowner or lawful users, if any, as well as the right to utilize water and timber resources within the licence area. Because the licence area is selected by the licence applicant and is not pre-established, access to the site by the licensee may be subject to obtaining the consent of any landowners or lawful users.

The right to sell the mineral output of the licensee’s labours is inherent in all types of AM authorization/permit/licence although this is sometimes not made explicit. As a matter of best practice, the right should be specified. Some mining laws regulate the buyers to whom the AM licensees can sell their mineral products.

Other issues that are treated variably by mining laws are: (a) whether the licensee has the right to process the minerals extracted pursuant to the AM license, and (b) whether the license holder has the right or a priority to obtain the transformation of the AM licence into a SSM licence or a standard exploitation licence.

28.6. Example 1:

Article [_]

An artisanal mining permit relating to mining materials confers on the recipient an exclusive right to carry out artisanal mining and to dispose of the specified mineral substances they find there on the open market and for own account, within the area determined in the permit, under the conditions defined therein, and to a depth which is compatible with workers' safety as established in the regulations.

Article [_]

(1) The recipient of an artisanal mining permit relating to mining materials is to mine mineral substances in a rational manner, complying with the standards for public health and safety for work, environmental preservation and the marketing of mined products in accordance with the regulations in force.

(2) Subject to the provisions of Articles [_] (on the relationship between mining operators and landowners and other occupants of the land, and relationships between mining operators) in the present Code, the recipient of an artisanal mining permit may not, except with the prior consent of the farmers, engage in work on cultivated land, nor may they obstruct the normal irrigation of land under cultivation. In the event that damage is caused, the Holder shall be required to compensate the farmers for the loss suffered.

Article [_]

(1) An artisanal mining permit relating to mining materials does not confer on the holder any particular right to obtain a subsequent mining title.

(2) An artisanal mining permit relating to mining materials supersede prospecting activities on the surface area covered by said permit. In the event that an industrial operating title covering the same surface area is granted the permit shall not be renewed, but the recipient shall have the right to indemnification from the new operator.


(1) An artisanal mining permit relating to mining materials is a right which may not be used as security. It may be subleased with authorisation from [the Regulatory Authority]

(2) Artisanal mining permits may not be assigned. They may be transferred in the event of the death or personal incapacity of the operator, subject to prior approval from [the Regulatory Authority], and subject to payment of the duties and taxes provided for in the Tax Code with regard to succession.


Drawn from Burkina Faso’s mining law (2015), the articles in the example provide the following details as to the rights conferred by the AM licence (called “artisanal mining authorization” in the Mining Code of Burkina Faso), which is not a mining title under that law:

    1)The right to exploit specified minerals within the specified licence area is exclusive.

    2)The AM right is spatially limited not only by the borders of the licence area, but also as to depth. The limit on the depth of an artisanal mine is set in the regulations, based on what is considered compatible with the security of the mineworkers.

    3)The AM right is subject to conditions specified in the licence.

    4)The AM right is also subject to regulations as to rational exploitation, public health, mine safety, environmental protection and marketing of mineral products. The AM licence holder may not conduct operations on agricultural land without the agreement of the local farmers and may not interfere with the normal irrigation of crops. The holder is responsible to pay for any damages caused to farmers.

    5)The AM right is not a mining title and does not include any right or preference to obtain a mining title. Although the AM right is exclusive within the licence area, an exploration licence may be superimposed on the same area. Furthermore, if an industrial exploitation licence is subsequently granted to a party other than the AM licence holder, the latter licence will not be renewed. However, the licence holder will be entitled to compensation by the new industrial exploitation licence holder.

    6)The AM licence is not a right that can be pledged. It can however be sublet, upon authorization by the Regulating Authority. The AM licence cannot be transferred, except in the case of death or disability of the licence holder.

This is an example of a comprehensive statement of the rights of AM licence holders. It clarifies the nature of the rights, their spatial limitations, and their scope as further defined or limited by regulations and the conditions of the licence. Note that the AM right under Burkina Faso’s mining law does not refer to exploration, because the law provides for a separate exploration licence for artisanal miners. Burkina Faso is a jurisdiction with a substantial artisanal gold mining subsector.

28.6. Example 2:

Article [_]

(1) Subject to the provisions of this [Act][Code][Law] or any other law and any condition of an artisanal mining licence, the holder of an artisanal licence shall have the exclusive right to carry on exploration and mining operations in the licensed area

(2) The holder of an artisanal mining licence may, in the exercise of the right conferred under subsection (1), enter the licensed area and remove minerals from the area and dispose of the mineral in respect of which the licence was issued.


Drawn from Sierra Leone’s mining law (2009), this example provides an exclusive right to the holder of an AM licence granted with respect to a specified mineral and a specified licence area. The right includes the right to enter the specified area and to carry on both exploration and exploitation, and to remove and dispose of the specified minerals, which encompasses the right to sell the minerals. The right may be subject to conditions specified in the licence, which may address other issues referenced above.