How to Get a Small-scale Mining Licence in Zambia

How to Get a Small-scale Mining Licence in Zambia

How does one get a small-scale mining licence in Zambia?

Small-scale mining in Zambia has in recent years gained momentum with many local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) getting licences in the country. Zambia is well known as a mineral rich country with a long-standing history of mining, predominantly copper and cobalt mining on the Copperbelt Province. In recent years, mining activity has expanded beyond the Copperbelt Province and the North-Western Province has been particularly one of the more successful new mining territories in Zambia. Rightfully dubbed “the new Copperbelt”, North-Western Province is home to the famous Lumwana Mine, commissioned in 2008 and successfully producing an average of about 169,000 metric tonnes per year.

Throughout all of the country’s provinces, various small-scale mining and exploration activity is taking as can be seen on the Zambia Mining Cadastre Portal. Small-scale mineral deposits in Zambia include gold, coal, manganese and zinc deposits. Gemstones and emeralds are also mined in the country. A key point to note however has been the high number of non-operational small-scale mining licences issued in recent years. Out of over 600 mining licences issued, only about 100 were active as of 2018. A key factor has been a lack of operational capacity and managerial competence for most licensed firms. With the right strategic partnerships, firms with small-scale mining licences can and should be able to operate at some profitable level.

Who is eligible for a small-scale mining licence? A Small-Scale Mining Licence is issued under Part III, Division III, sections 30 and 31 of the Mines and Minerals Development Act. The small-scale mining licence may only be granted to a citizen-owned company in which 50.1% equity is owned by Zambian citizens. The government authority directly responsible for this is the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development – Mining Cadastre Unit (MMMD – CMU). New small-scale mining licences are processed through the Central Mining Cadastre offices in Lusaka and the Regional Mining Bureaux offices situated in Chipata, Choma, Kitwe, Mansa, Mkushi and Solwezi. The completed application for a new small-scale mining licence will include the following;

  • A statement on the mineral deposits (whether the reserves are proven, estimated or inferred) and of the mining conditions,
  • A description and sketch of the area of land over which the small-scale mining licence is sought,
  • The proposed programme of prospecting and mining operations (PPMO) including a forecast of investment, the estimated recovery rate of ore and the applicant’s proposal for its treatment and disposal,
  • A statement of the duration for which the small-scale mining licence is sought,
  • A tax clearance certificate issued under the income Tax Act,
  • A copy of the national registration card or passport,
  • Company details including names of shareholders and directors,
  • And, any other information as the Director of mining may require.

The Director of mining shall take into account the following while considering an application for a small-scale mining licence;

  1. Proof of adequate financial resources, technical competence and experience to carry on effective small-scale mining operations,
  2. That the proposed programme of small-scale mining is adequate and makes proper provision for environmental protection,
  3. Proof of consent, where consent is required for the area under any written law – in the case of areas under traditional ownership.

Once satisfied that the application meets the requirements of the Act, the Director of mining grants a small-scale mining licence for a period not exceeding 10 years.

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