In the last two weeks’ episodes the focus was on how one can become an approved prospector and the legal issues incidental to becoming an approved prospector. This week’s focus is on the acquisition of a prospecting license which enables one to legally search for minerals of choice, for example, gold, lithium or other valuable mineral under the surface of the earth.
Who can apply for a prospecting license and what are the requirements?
In terms of Section 20 (1) of the Mines and Minerals Act Chapter 21:05 herein referred to as the “Act”, any person who is a permanent resident of Zimbabwe or any duly appointed agent of such person may make an application to the mining commissioner for one or more prospecting licences. In terms of section 24 of the Act no person who is under the age of eighteen years shall hold any prospecting licence and this condition is peremptory and cannot be waived.
On making the application the applicant is required to make payment of an appropriate fee prescribed in respect of each such licence and the applicant will always be advised at the mines office which is open and accessible to the public. The applicant is required to furnish the mining commissioner with his/her full names and permanent postal address, which shall appear on the licence issued to him, and such other information as the mining commissioner may require. The mining commissioner, upon receipt of the application may grant or may not grant the application. If however, the mining commissioner refuses to grant the application he/she is obliged by the Act to report to the secretary of mines and the secretary forwards the report to the Minister. The Minister upon consideration of the report may direct the secretary to instruct the mining commissioner to issue the licence if it appears to him that the refusal was improper.
Rights available to the holder of a prospecting licence
Any holder of a prospecting licence may, in writing under his hand, appoint an approved prospector to act as his representative under any prospecting licence already issued to him. The appointed representative shall only act under a prospecting licence to which his appointment relates and solely for the benefit of the holder of the licence. Further, the rights conferred by the Act upon the holder of a prospecting licence are personal rights which shall be exercised by the holder personally only if he is an approved prospector and where he/she is not an approved prospector, be exercised only by a representative appointed by him/her.
It has to be noted that the holder of a prospecting licence is not allowed by the law to sell or otherwise dispose of any prospecting licence or certificate of registration as an approved prospector. Any such sale or other disposition is deemed void and the parties to such a sale transaction or other disposition shall be guilty of an offence level five or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and such imprisonment.
Application for a lost licence.
In the event that one loses his/her licence, the Act provides for a recourse in terms of Section 22. If the holder of a prospecting licence has lost such licence, he may apply to any mining commissioner for a duplicate copy thereof. The Applicant shall furnish a solemn declaration in a form to be approved by the mining commissioner which shall state that the licence has been lost or destroyed; and shall provide the mining commissioner’s office from which the original licence was obtained and the number of the licence. If the mining commissioner is satisfied that indeed the licence was lost, he/she will issue a duplicate copy of the licence which will be available for all purposes for which the original one would have been available.
This is it for this week and wishing those that are developing an interest in the field of mining the best of adventure. In the part 4, our focus will be on land that is open to prospecting and other incidental processes.
Fungai Chimwamurombe is a registered legal practitioner and Senior Partner at Chimwamurombe Legal Practice and can be contacted for feedback at email@example.com and WhatsApp 0772 997 889. Tapiwa Muhlwa is a Senior Associate, email: tapiwa@ zenaslegalpractice.com