In line with its stated Mining Policy, the Government of Zambia has enacted new legislation – the Mines and Minerals Act (1995) – which greatly simplifies licensing procedures, places minimum reasonable constraints on prospecting and mining activities, and creates a very favourable investment environment, whilst allowing for international arbitration to be written into development agreements, should this be deemed necessary. A framework for responsible development has also been created through publication of the Environmental Protection and Pollution Control (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations, 1997.
Three types of licence are available to the large-scale operator:
- Prospecting Licence: this confers the right to prospect for any mineral over any size of area for a period of two years renewable.
- Retention Licence: the right to retain an area, subject to the Minister’s agreement, over which feasibility studies have been completed but market conditions are unfavourable to development of a deposit at that time. Size of the area may be that covered by a Prospecting Licence or smaller area as redefined by the Licence holder. Duration would be for three years renewable for another single period of three years.
- Large Scale Mining Licence: this confers exclusive rights to carry out mining operations and other acts reasonably incidental thereto in the area for a maximum of 25 years. The area to be held should not exceed the area reasonably required to carry out the proposed mining operations. Applications need to be accompanied by environmental protection plans and by proposals for the employment and training of citizens of Zambia.
Similar rights are available to smaller operators, but on a reduced scale.
- Prospecting Permits: relate to areas of 10 km2 and have a duration of 2 years non-renewable.
- Small Scale Mining Licences: relate to areas not exceeding 400 hectares and have a duration of 10 years renewable.
- Artisans Mining Rights: give the right to local people to mine on an artisanal basis an area not exceeding 5 hectares for a period of 2 years non-renewable.
- Gemstone Licences: holders may carry out mining operations over an area not exceeding 400 hectares for a period of not more than 10 years.
Key steps in establishing a project as laid down by the 1997 regulations are:
- Preparation of a project brief to the Director of Mines Safety describing the site, proposed activities, and all aspects of potential environmental impact.
- Director may request more information or can forward the project brief to the Environmental Council of Zambia recommending one of : rejection; acceptance after submission of a full Environmental Impact Statement; the project be accepted and allowed to proceed immediately.
- Preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement and submission to the Director of Mines Safety.
- The Director of Mines Safety submits his recommendations to the Environmental Council which makes the final decision.
- Environmental Impact Statements, if called for, to be updated annually or within fifteen months of the first statement.
- Environmental audits of projects to be completed annually.
- If a developer finds the provisions of any regulation unduly onerous, he may apply to the Minister or Director of Mines Safety for an exemption from that regulation. The exemption may be granted under prescribed conditions.
- Developers of large-scale mining projects to contribute to the Environmental Management Fund for rehabilitation purposes.
In all cases a Customs and Excise Declaration form has to be completed, usually accompanied by a letter of authorization from the Mines Development Department. Additional procedures have to be followed for different commodities:
- Gemstones: Valuation Certificate required from Government Recognised Valuer.
- Precious metals: provision of a sample for analysis.
- Base metals: a one-year letter of authority is issued by the Mines Development Department, rather than for individual shipments.
- Rock and soil samples of no commercial value: the samples to be physically checked before export.