Maputo — The Mozambican government on Tuesday approved a revision of the country’s mining legislation, which will now be submitted to parliament.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting of the Council of Ministers (Cabinet), the Minister of Mineral Resources, Esperanca Bias, said that the current Mining Law dates from 2002, and needs to be brought into line with current reality.
She said that one of the main changes introduced concerns the period of validity of mining licences. Currently, Mozambican artisanal miners can obtain a mining pass (“senha mineira”) which is valid for one year renewable. The government’s proposal raises the period of validity to five years.
Likewise for the mining certificate: it is currently valid for two years, and the government wants to increase this period to ten years.
“Both the mining pass and the mining certificate are exclusively for Mozambican nationals”, said Bias, “and extending the period of validity is intended to give greater security to those who hold these mining titles”.
A further innovation in the government proposal would oblige all holders of mining titles to obtain goods and services through public tenders announced in the Mozambican media. This measure seeks to ensure that Mozambican citizens and companies can compete in providing the goods and services required for mining.
The new bill also criminalises illicit mining activity, Bias said this covers “prospection and exploration without due authorisation, and the circulation of minerals without due authorisation”. The marketing of minerals, she said, is supposed to be reserved exclusively for Mozambicans.
Bias said the government hopes to reduce illicit activity, which causes huge losses to the country. She added that illegal mining also ignores the basic principles of environmental management.
She could not put a figure on the losses caused to the Mozambican economy, but believed they are very large “if we take into account the damage at the mining sites, and the value of the resources extracted”.
The problems mainly concern illicit mining for gold and precious stones, in which there is heavy involvement of foreign nationals, not only from neighbouring states, but also from as far afield as Senegal and Mali.
As for exploration licences, the bill keeps the initial period of validity at five years, but reduces the renewal period to a maximum of three years.
“We think that in eight years it is possible to move to the development phase, and consequently to the production phase”, said Bias.
Under the current law, once a mining concession has been granted (usually the next step after work under an exploration licence has confirmed the existence of commercially viable reserves), the owner of this title has 90 months to begin production. The new bill reduces this period to 48 months.