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Part B: Mineral Rights - Part B-5: Development Minerals - 30. Development Minerals Exploration Licence | 30.4 Area

The area refers to the physical boundary marking the space grantable for exploration. Most laws only provide for the maximum size permitted under the exploration licence, but a law may also provide the minimum threshold allowed. Some laws will mandate the licence holder to clearly demarcate the granted space with physical markers (stones, pegs, wooden slats), while others require solely that the size of the property be listed in the licence document itself, in the mining cadastre, and/or in the applicant’s application documents. The area covered by an exploration licence should be subject to the requirements as to form and orientation imposed by the cadastral system.

A licence should indicate the specific area granted to the licence holder, usually by geographic references but preferably official map coordinates. Due to the larger footprint of prospecting/reconnaissance activities relative to exploration activities, the maximum grantable area for exploration is usually smaller in size relative to the maximum grantable area for prospecting/reconnaissance, subject to being reduced over time either by voluntary relinquishment or mandatory size reductions at renewals. Voluntary relinquishment can be encouraged by a system of gradually increasing annual fees payable per unit of surface area.

30.4 Example 1:

Section [_]

Article [_] General principle of no overlapping licences

(1) As general rule, no development mineral licence can be granted in the same area over which a licence has been already granted.

(2) In exceptional cases, when the [Regulating Authority] determines that there is no technical or operational conflict between two or more projects, the [Regulating Authority] might grant two or more licences that can overlap between each other.

(3) In no circumstance may the [Regulating Authority] grant more than one licence to explore or exploit the same mineral in the same area.

(4) No development minerals licences can be granted on environmental protected areas.

Article [_] Area of large scale mining development mineral licence

(1) An exploration licence for large scale mining development minerals project shall cover an area of no more than 1000 km2, determined in the terms and conditions of the tender process.

(2) Subject to the provisions of subsection (4), the exploration area shall be reduced in size to eliminate therefrom—

(a) at the end of the initial term of the exploration licence, not less than half of the initial area;

(b) at the end of each period of renewal, half of the remaining area.

(3) The holder of an exploration licence shall designate, prior to the end of each of the periods referred to in subsection (2), the area or areas to be eliminated from the exploration area and, in default thereof, the designation shall be made by the [Regulating Authority].

(4) Where a person holds two or more contiguous exploration licences covering the same period and the same mineral or minerals the [Regulating Authority] shall, for the purposes of the elimination, under subsection (2), of part of any of the areas thereof, permit the areas covered thereby to be deemed to be one area, the subject of one such exploration licence.

(5) No compensation shall be payable to the holder of any exploration licence arising out of reductions in area effected in terms of this article.

Article [_] Area of small scale development mineral licence.

(1) An exploration licence for artisanal and small scale mining development minerals project shall cover an area of no more than 0,5 km2, as determined by the [Regulating Authority] based on the petition of the licensee.

(2) The holder of a minerals permit shall, within three months of the issue thereof, secure the area covered by such licence.

Article [_] Area of artisanal development mineral licence.

(1) An artisanal mining licence area shall not be more than one half hectare (5000 m2).

(2) Every artisanal mining licence area shall be determined in the field by a government officer, jointly with the licensee.

Article [_] Creation of special development mineral artisanal mining zones

(1) Considering the disperse nature of development minerals, artisanal licences can be adjudicated in all the territory of the State.

(2) the [Regulating Authority], after technical and economic analysis, may determine a specific zone as “Development Minerals Artisanal Mining Zone”, where licences shall be granted to artisanal miners organized as cooperatives, under the national legislation.

(3) The government should carry an environmental study in order to decide the creation of the Zones.

(4) When establishing these zones, the government shall organize plans to support artisanal miners cooperatives working in such zones for-

(a) fund mining operations.

(b) train workers, especially in safety, security and environment matters.

(c) help licences holders to comply their environmental obligations


Drawn from Botswana’s mining law (1999), this example represents perhaps the outer limit (1000 km2) of the maximum size of area available under an exploration licence (called prospecting licence under the Botswana law). It is fairly typical in requiring a reduction of at least half of the area upon each renewal, but allows some flexibility in the case of renewals after the first.

Areas covered by retention licences are eliminated because they come under a separate licence (i.e., a licence holder may obtain a retention licence for part of a licence area while continuing to hold the rest under the prospecting licence).

The provision for small scale mining limits the size of an SSM licence (“minerals permit”) area to half of a square kilometre (i.e., 50 hectares.) It does not permit any exceptions, but it also does not limit the number of SSM licences that can be held by a single holder.

The provision also requires the permit holder to demarcate the SSM permit area within three (3) months of the issuance of the permit “in such manner as may be prescribed”.

30.4 Example 2

Article [_] Determination of areas

Considering the development of the sector, the [Regulating Authority] shall determine the minimum and maximum area for development minerals large scale, small scale and artisanal mining projects.


In this case, the size of the areas is left to be decided by the regulating authority.