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Part B: Mineral Rights - Part B-1: Mineral Licences - Prospecting/Reconnaissance - 24. Prospecting/Reconnaissance Licencing | 24.2 Requirements for Licence Application

Regulatory authorities generally require that eligible persons (or entities) seeking authorization to conduct prospecting/reconnaissance activities submit particular documents or show proof of certain criteria as part of the authorization process. Requirements for Licence applications vary greatly from country to country, and can include (but are not limited to):

- Proof of domicile, for the individual applicant and/or corporate entity seeking authorization;

- Proof of a minimum level of financial and technical expertise to conduct the activities;

- A statement including any research already conducted about the mineral deposit potential of the site in question;

- Payment of fees associated with the application process;

- Submission of duly completed applicable forms.

24.2 Example 1:

Article [_]

(1) An application for the grant of a prospecting/reconnaissance licence shall be submitted to the Mining Cadastre Office in the prescribed form and-

(a) shall contain the registered name and place of incorporation of the company, its certificate of incorporation and certified copy of its memorandum and articles of association, the names and nationalities of its directors and the name of every shareholder who is the beneficial owner of five percent or more of the issued share capital;

(b) shall contain the company profile and history of reconnaissance and exploration operations in Sierra Leone and elsewhere;

(c) shall identify the name and qualifications of the person responsible for supervising the proposed programme of reconnaissance operations;

(d) shall be accompanied by a plan of the proposed reconnaissance licence area over which the licence is sought, drawn in such a manner and showing such particulars as prescribed;

(e) shall be accompanied by a description of the contiguous blocks comprising the proposed reconnaissance licence area, identified in the prescribed manner, which shall be considered definitive should there be any discrepancy with the plan submitted under paragraph (d);

(f) shall be accompanied by a statement giving particulars of the technical and financial resources available to the applicant, and a certified copy of its audited accounts for the year immediately preceding the application;

(g) shall be accompanied by a proposed programme of reconnaissance operations as prescribed setting out in detail the work intended over the next twelve month period together with the estimated cost, with details of the equipment expected to be used in connection with it and the names and particulars of the persons to be responsible for the conduct thereof;

(h) shall state the period applied for which shall be no longer than one year;

(i) shall give details of any mineral right held within Sierra Leone by the applicant or by any person controlling, controlled by or under joint or common control with the applicant;

(j) shall provide details of any significant adverse effects which the carrying out of the programme of reconnaissance operations would be likely to have on the environment and on any monument or relic in the proposed reconnaissance area and an estimate of the cost of combating such adverse effects;

(k) shall give or be accompanied by a statement giving particulars of the applicant’s proposals with regard to the employment of [national] citizens; and

(l) may set out any other matter which the applicant wishes the [Regulating Authority] to consider.


Drawn from the mining law of Sierra Leone (2009), this article requires detailed information about:

1) the applicant company, its directors and principal shareholders;

2) the company profile and its history of prior reconnaissance and exploration activities;

3) the supervisor of its proposed activities;

4) a map (plan) of the proposed licence area;

5) a description of the cadastral blocks comprising the proposed licence area;

6) a statement of the applicant’s technical and financial resources, accompanied by a certified copy of the company’s audited financial statements for the prior year;

7) a proposed program of reconnaissance operations for the next year, including cost, equipment to be used, and particulars of the responsible individuals;

8) the requested licence term (maximum of one year);

9) particulars of any mineral right held by the company or by any affiliate of the company;

10) any significant adverse effects that the reconnaissance activity may have on the environment, any monument or relic in the proposed licence area, with an estimate of the cost of “combating such effects”;

11) proposals regarding the employment of [national] citizens.

This level of information required in an application for a prospecting/reconnaissance licence is high by international and regional standards, particularly for a non-exclusive prospecting/reconnaissance licence as is the case in Sierra Leone. The application requirement indicates that Sierra Leone intends to control access to mineral rights and strictly limit such access to qualified companies that demonstrate an ability to perform serious work programs.

The prospecting/reconnaissance licence under the mining law of Sierra Leone is non-exclusive, does not provide the holder with any priority for obtaining an exploration licence, and is not a prerequisite for obtaining an exploration licence. Given the extent of the application requirement for a prospecting/reconnaissance licence that grants no exclusive rights or priority, it is not surprising that as of September 29, 2016 only 7 such licences have been issued under the mining law of Sierra Leone; all have expired; and none have been issued since 2012. This indicates that the rights provided by the prospecting/reconnaissance permit under Sierra Leone’s mining law are viewed as insufficient for applicants to make the commitments required by the application requirements. These application requirements would be more appropriate for a prospecting/reconnaissance licence that grants an exclusive right over the licence area and the exclusive right to apply for an exploration or mining licence within that area during the term of the prospecting/reconnaissance licence.

24.2 Example 2:

Article [_]

(1) Applications for prospecting permits as provided for in Articles [_] and [_] (on the authority to grant a prospecting permit and its scope) above are to be sent to [the regulatory authority] and must include:

(a) an application, duly signed by the managing director of the company requesting the mining title;
(b) the company's constitutional documents;
(c) the composition of the management team and the positions of its members;
(d) the comprehensive technical programme:
(e) the details of the financial outlay per item;
(f) the detailed business card for the company, along with the latest balance sheet for the financial year for said company:
(g) what the company requires locally.

(2) An application for a prospecting permit is to be drawn up in two original copies, one of which must be stamped, in the case of a general application, and in four original copies, two of which must be stamped, if it relates to substances in categories [_] as provided for in Article [_] (on the classification of mineral substances). It shall indicate the extent of the area and the minerals applied for.


Drawn from the Republic of Congo’s mining law (2005), this provision requires information about the composition and the quality of the members of the applicant’s leadership team, a comprehensive description of the intended technical program and a detailed description of the planned financial effort. As in Sierra Leone, the prospecting/reconnaissance licence available under the mining law of the Congo is non-exclusive and does not provide the holder with any priority for the grant of an exploration licence. That is the case generally in African countries that offer reconnaissance licences

Countries that wish to strictly limit access to prospecting/reconnaissance rights in order to ensure that they are only granted to qualified applicants who can be expected to carry out a serious work program - while respecting the natural and social environment and reporting accurate results of their work - should consider whether the scope of the prospecting/reconnaissance rights are commensurate with the application requirements. If the rights are of very limited value, they are likely to be ignored and bypassed.