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Part B: Mineral Rights - Part B-2: Exploration - 25. Exploration Licensing | 25.2 Requirements for Licence Applications

Regulatory authorities generally require that eligible entities seeking authorization to conduct exploration activities submit particular documents and show proof of certain criteria as part of the authorization application process. Several countries have adopted a two-tier approach to the procedure for issuing exploration licences: that is, (1) an application procedure with defined criteria for areas in which significant deposits have not yet been identified (i.e., “greenfields” projects), and (2) a tender procedure for areas containing known deposits that have been explored or worked previously. For those areas put up for bid, the requirements are set out in the bidding terms and specifications, and the tender is conducted in accordance with established rules for transparency and objectivity. A third possibility is to grant exploration rights to known stratoform deposits by an auction procedure (i.e., by offering them to the highest bidder during a specified auction period, without the other more extensive requirements of a tender procedure).

In addition to identification and eligibility of the applicant, the requirements for the grant of an exploration licence will or may contain some or all of the following:

  • The availability of the area requested;

Proof of eligibility and domicile, for the individual applicant and/or the firm seeking authorization;

  • The specification of the minerals to be targeted by the exploration project;
  • A proposed work program for all or part of the licence term;
  • Proof of technical and financial capability to carry out the proposed work program;
  • Compliance with limitations on the number of permits or the aggregate area that a person or entity and its affiliates may hold under licence;

·Completion and submission of specified official forms;

  • Payment of processing fees upon application; and
  • Payment of any fees required as a condition for the issuance of the licence.

A fundamental issue in designing the requirements is whether to (a) restrict access to mineral exploration licences by imposing technical and financial standards as conditions for the grant of rights, or (b) facilitate access to such licences and eliminate non-performing licencees subsequently based on their failure to meet performance standards under their licences.

In some jurisdictions where the right to a mining licence is attached to the exploration licence, subject to the fulfilment of defined conditions, the signature of a contract between the State and the licensee may be required at the time of issuance of the exploration licence. This would often be the case when the right to explore and exploit a known valuable mineral deposit is awarded by a tender process. The contract sets forth the rights and obligations of the licensee during the term of the exploration licence and the conditions under which a mining licence will be issued.In light of increasing global commitments related to Climate Change and Land Use, it would be prudent for the State to require in such cases the conduct of an initial social, environmental and overall sustainable development assessment of the project at an early stage of contract implementation prior to the completion of the exploration phase and the authorization of mine development. The applicant’s commitment to and proposed plans for the funding and conduct of such a study in collaboration with the national and local environmental authorities and their contractors, as well as local communities, could constitute an essential component of the application.

25.2 Example 1:

Article [_] Application for exploration licence

(1) An application may be made for an exploration licence for minerals falling under any of the following groups:

(a) metallic minerals;

(2) An application for an exploration licence including an application in respect of land in an area reserved for applications by tender for exploration licences shall be made to the [Regulating Authority] and shall be in the prescribed form and accompanied by the prescribed fee.

(3) An application for the grant of an exploration licence-

(a) shall contain-

(i) in the case of an individual, his full name and nationality, physical and postal addresses, and attach his recent passport size photograph; or

(ii) in the case of a body corporate, its Corporate name, place of incorporation, names and nationality of directors;

(iii) in the case of more than one person, particulars referred in items (i) and (ii) of each person.

(b) shall state the type of minerals and its relevant group, as indicated in subsection (1);

(c) shall state the size of the area of land over which it is sought, which shall not exceed the maximum area prescribed as provided under section [_] (stating that maximum areas are to be established by regulation), and be accompanied by a plan of the area;

(d) shall contain a statement giving particulars of the financial and technical resources available to the applicant; and

(e) shall contain a statement on the procurement plan of goods and services available in [Country];

(f) shall contain details of any mineral right previously granted to the applicant.

(4) Every application for an exploration licence made in the prescribed form by an applicant who has tendered to the licensing authority the prescribed fee, shall be registered immediately in the register maintained for such applications under this [Act][Code][Law].

(5) Each application registered under subsection (4) shall be assigned a number and the date on which it was received and shall be indicated on an official receipt handed to the applicant or his authorised agent or sent to the applicant by registered mail.

Article [_] Exploration licence by tender

(1) An application for an exploration licence in an area designated as an area for which applications for such a licence are invited by tender shall-

(a) be in the prescribed tender form and accompanied by the prescribed tender fee; and

(b) subject to the terms and conditions of the invitation to tender, include the matters required to be included in applications by section [_] (the general article on the application requirements for an exploration licence).

(2) Applications made under subsection (1) shall be submitted to the [Administrative Reviewer] for its advice.

(3) On receipt of a report from the [Administrative Reviewer], the [Regulating Authority] shall consider the competing bids and shall select the bid which is most likely to promote the expeditious and beneficial development of the mineral resources of the area having regard to

(a) the programme of exploration operations which the applicant proposes to carry out and the commitments as regards expenditure which the applicant is prepared to make;

(b) the financial and technical resources of the applicant; and

(c) the previous experience of the applicant in the conduct of exploration and mining operations, and the successful application shall be treated as an application under section [_] (on the rules governing priority in the case of competing applications) which has priority over any other application and the applicant shall be notified accordingly.


Drawn from Tanzania’s mining law (2010), this provision sets forth the requirements for the grant of an exploration licence (called a prospecting licence in the law).The law provides for a two-tier process of issuing such licences (an application process and a tender process). It sets out the requirements for the licence in the article describing the required application contents and then refers back to them in the article on the conditions for the grant of the licence.

The requirements for obtaining an exploration licence by application include all of the elements described in the immediately preceding annotation and, in addition, the following:

  1. Statement as to local procurement of goods; and
  2. Minimum annual expenditure per square kilometer.

25.2 Example 2:

Article [_]

In general, mining licences shall be considered and granted according to a principle of "1st come, 1st served".

Article [_]

(1) All applications for mining rights are to be made using the prescribed form from the Ministry of Mines, a template of which shall be set out in the decree implementing the present [Code][Act][Law].

(2) After correctly completing the form, the applicant is to file their application with said office, with acknowledgement of receipt that indicates the date and time, to the hour and minute, that the application was filed, and constitutes evidence of filing.

Article [_]

(1) Prospecting licences, or "P" licences, relating to a defined area shall be granted by a decision of [the regulatory authority] or its representative, within no more than thirty (30) working days, to the first eligible person who filed an application which meets the conditions specified in Article [_] (which states that the template for application forms shall be set out in the implementing decree) above.

(2) In cases where the applicant is applying pursuant to an exclusive permit to reserve an area, they are to attach said permit, duly endorsed by the authorities for the relevant Decentralised Territorial Collectives, to their application.


Drawn from Madagascar’s mining law (1999), this provision provides for the issuance of an exploration licence to the first eligible applicant who submits a complete application for an available area. No proof of technical or financial capacity is required; and no work program is reviewed as a requirement for the grant of the licence.

Madagascar is an example of a jurisdiction that relies on ex-post requirements for maintaining the validity of an exploration licence rather than limiting access to exploration licences by imposing requirements for their issuance.