In addition to setting a clear distinction between the mining and quarry regimes, the Draft Bill proposes a restructuring of the categorization of mining rights, with a total of nine categories of mining rights.
It introduces in particular the authorization of recognition (autorisation de reconnaissance) and the prospection authorization is replaced by a prospection permit (permis de prospection) which provides for exclusive prospection rights over a non-renewable period of two years.
While no changes have been suggested to the provisions governing the research permit, the surface area of such permit remaining limited to 200 sq. km, some rather restrictive provisions are proposed in the Draft Bill with respect to the exploitation permit (permis d’exploitation industrielle or PE), namely that its term would be reduced from 20 years to 10 and its area limited to 10 sq. km, whereas no such limitation is provided in the current Mining Code. This provision is not in line with most other mining codes in Francophone Africa which tend not to impose limitations on the area of a PE and allow for a duration typically of between 20 and 25 years. Furthermore, while a lease (amodiation) of a PE continues to be prohibited under the Draft Bill, the assignment, transfer or pledge of a PE would now be subject to approval of the Council of Ministers rather than the Minister of Mines as currently provided under the Mining Code.
In addition, investment thresholds have been introduced as a criterion to distinguish between artisanal mining, small scale mining and industrial exploitation. For example, the Draft Bill provides that artisanal mining is determined by the level of investment which shall not exceed 50 million (note that the currency is not indicated, but we presume these are FCFA) and small scale mining requires investments to be in an amount between 50 and 500 million FCFA. Finally, the investment level for industrial exploitation must exceed 500 million FCFA.
It is also specifically provided that no mining right can be requested or granted for speculative purposes. This clearly demonstrates the concern of the authorities about the speculative objectives of some of the industry players.