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Part B: Mineral Rights - Part B-1: Mineral Licences - Prospecting/Reconnaissance - 24. Prospecting/Reconnaissance Licencing | 24.7 Term of Licence

Not all mining laws provide for a prospecting/reconnaissance licence. However, among those that do, the terms of such licences vary from three months to two years.

In general, because the purpose of a prospecting/reconnaissance licence is to enable large scale but non-invasive investigation of an area’s mineralization that, if successful, leads to exploration work which usually involves extensive drilling, the terms of prospecting/reconnaissance licences are not long. Most mining laws that include separate licencing of reconnaissance activity provide a term of one year for the licences.

A few African countries (such as Ghana, Liberia, Madagascar and Namibia) grant prospecting/reconnaissance licences for periods of less than or up to a year. Under their Mining laws, the holder of a prospecting/reconnaissance licence has a right that is exclusive (or that may become exclusive, in the case of Namibia) and that has a priority for obtaining an exploration licence for the subsequent, more narrowly focused, phase of mineral resource development activity. In Madagascar, the term of an Exclusive Perimeter Reservation Authorization, under which reconnaissance activity is authorized, is limited to three months and is non-renewable.

24.7 Example 1:

Article [_]

A prospecting/reconnaissance licence shall be valid for a period not exceeding one year.


Drawn from Sierra Leone’s mining law (2009), this is a typical term for a non-exclusive prospecting/reconnaissance licence that confers no right or priority to obtain an exploration licence.

24.7 Example 2:

Article [_]

The [Regulating Authority] upon receipt of an application by an Eligible Applicant for any Mineral Right that conforms to the requirements set forth in this [Law][Act][Code] or in the Regulations, shall grant such Person a Reconnaissance Licence for the area applied for subject to the following terms and conditions.

a) that the [Regulating Authority] shall grant and issue a Reconnaissance Licence for a maximum period of six (6) months.


Drawn from Liberia’s mining law (2000), this provision provides a shorter term for an exclusive prospecting/reconnaissance right that includes the right to obtain an exploration licence for the subsequent phase of mineral resource development activity if the holder is in compliance with his/her/its obligations under the initial licence.

24.7 Example 3:

Article [_]

An Exclusive Permit to Reserve an Area confers on the holder an exclusive right to prospect and then, should the need arise, apply for a mining licence with a view to prospecting and/or carrying out mining operations, for one or more zones within the area covered by the permit.


Drawn from Madagascar’s mining law (2005), this example provides for an AERP – which is an exclusive prospecting/reconnaissance licence with an exclusive right to apply for an exploration or exploitation licence during the term of the AERP – with a very short term of 3 months. Reconnaissance-type prospecting activities are authorized under the AERP. The purpose of this licence is primarily to enable prospective applicants to reserve an area while conducting due diligence on it, contacting the local authorities, initiating an environmental impact assessment and assembling an application for an exploration licence or a small scale mining licence (as spelled out in other omitted paragraphs of the article in the mining law of Madagascar).

To avoid abuses, this provision forbids renewals of AERPs and further restricts any applicant from obtaining a new AERP on any part of the surface area covered by the initial AERP for three years after it expires.

The short term of the AERP is thus inversely proportional to the robustness of the exclusive rights conferred. Because the AERP provides a very strong exclusive right, its term is kept very short in order to avoid tying up excessive areas of land that are not being explored.