Mining Cadastre & Licensing

4. The particularities of mineral rights in comparison with other types of properties

In general, the majority of the countries in the world (there are only a few exceptions) mineral rights have the same status as real estate properties. However, there are several key differences between the standard land or soil properties and the mineral rights, as outlined below:

  • Mineral resources belong to the state;

  • The right to explore and exploit the mineral resources may be temporarily transferred to an individual or a corporate entity through a written document, normally called a licence or lease;

  • Mineral rights are distinct from surface or land ownership rights;

  • The granted licence or lease does usually not include visible physical boundaries (such as fencing). Instead, the area is usually delineated by geographic references or coordinates;

  • The holders of the granted licence or lease must fulfil pre-established conditions to be granted and maintain their rights over the area;

  • When the validity of the granted licence or lease ends, the rights return to the state;

  • The licence or the mineral right cannot be suspended or revoked except on specific grounds. These must be objective and non-discretionary. They should be clearly specified and detailed in the legal framework; and

  • In most countries, mineral rights are divided into exploration and mining licences.