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Part B: Mineral Rights - Part B-4: ASM Licencing - 28. Artisanal Mining | 28.7. Term of License

The Term of license the AM licence provisions provide for the minimum and maximum duration of the initial period of validity of the license licence. that can be valid for. The time allowed should consider that different the types and sizes of mineral deposit available, and the capacity to exploit it in the time allowable For a variety of reasons, the term of the AM licence tends to be short: one or two years in most cases. By definition, AM licences are only granted as to small deposits that are not suitable for industrial exploitation. Also by definition, AM is only conducted using traditional manual labour and tools, without mechanization. Since little or no capital investment is required, a substantial term within which to recover capital is not necessary. Moreover, AM has generally been an informal or illegal activity, with artisanal miners moving to a new site as recovery of minerals diminishes at the old site. In this context, the State has an interest in retaining the ability to closely monitor and restrict artisanal mining at a site in order to prevent or limit environmental damage, forced labour, child labour, unhealthy and/or unsafe working conditions, money laundering or other illegal, unsafe or unhealthy practices. In short, the deposit should be one that can be effectively exploited without mechanization in a year or two, there is no substantial investment that necessitates a longer recovery period, and the State has an interest in closely monitoring the activity and restricting it if necessary to prevent abuses.

On the other hand, artisanal miners have argued that the short term of AM licences, coupled with the possibility of an exploration licence and ultimately an exploitation licence being superimposed on their licence area, resulting in the termination or non-renewal of their licences leaves them excessively vulnerable and thwarts their aspirations to evolve into SSM operators and eventually form strategic relationships with larger international mining companies. This suggests that some flexibility in the terms of AM licenses may be desirable, particularly in the case of licence holders who demonstrate or have demonstrated their ability to follow best practices in health, safety and environmental protection.

28.7. Example 1:

Article [_]

An artisanal mining license shall be valid for the period specified in the license; provided however, that such period shall not exceed three years.


Drawn from Ethiopia’s mining law (2010) this example provides the licensing authority with some flexibility to set the initial term of the licence, depending on the term requested, the conditions of the deposit and the capability of the applicant. The maximum term allowed is longer than the typical term allowed for AM licences in Africa. Thus, this example reflects some sensitivity to the desire and need of AM licensees for a potentially longer period of quiet enjoyment of the right to exploit a small deposit manually.

28.7. Example 2:

Article [_]

The term of an artisanal mining licence shall be one year.


Drawn from the mining laws of Liberia (2000), the DRC (2002), Madagascar (2005) and Sierra Leone (2009), this provision is one of the more restrictive limits on the initial period of validity of an AM licence. Liberia and Sierra Leone grant AM licences for exclusive licence areas, whereas the DRC and Madagascar license individuals or groups of individuals to engage in AM within AM zones designated by the mining administration. These short terms for AM licences reflect a State concern with oversight of the AM subsector in which a very significant number of individuals engage in each of those jurisdictions.