Interview: Martial-Rufin Moussavou
What changes are planned for the mining code?
MARTIAL-RUFIN MOUSSAVOU: In an effort to increase local participation and more equal redistribution of the wealth generated from mining activities, we are discussing several amendments to the new law. The simplification of the institutional framework and the alleviation of requirements to acquire land and mining titles will considerably improve and accelerate the fluidity of starting mining operations in the country. To support artisanal mining, we will start providing small-scale mining permits to local cooperatives, as well as assign them areas specifically destined for small-scale gold operations. Moreover, we will extend our gold collection and commercialisation activities to small-scale mines and artisanal miners.
Companies will now be required to subscribe to insurance policies, and will be responsible for any damage caused by their activities. As for downstream operations, the mining code will now regulate all activities derived from querying, including transport, storage and warehousing. By providing support and technical assistance to all actors in the industry, including those indirectly involved, such as research and consulting firms, and subcontractors, we will undeniably improve the quality of projects, allowing only the best companies to operate.
How can Gabon develop exploration activities?
MOUSSAVOU: Gabon has geological potential and a rich history of mining activities, marked primarily by the extraction of manganese, uranium and gold. The development of exploration activities will be aided by two things. The first is the geological data that has already been revealed by the System for the Stabilisation of Export Earnings from Mining Products programme of 2005-10 and the Mining Inventory programme of 1980-90. The resulting geological database is already an important tool for the industry, as evidenced by the more than 80 exploration projects taking place today. Secondly the new law regulating mining activities, which was enforced in 2015, should result in a simpler, more transparent framework.
What is the country’s strategy for gold mining?
MOUSSAVOU: After the decision to make gold the country’s foremost mineral, it was paramount to adapt the legislative framework to organise the activities directly or indirectly related to the exploration and extraction of the mineral. The previously mentioned changes to the law will allow for better management of the collection and commercialisation networks for gold circulating within the country or coming from abroad. The legislation has also allowed for the reduction of taxes and customs for all actors operating within the sector.
On the practical side, the strategy behind the gold law is based on opening at least 10 small-scale mining projects by 2017. This will allow the country to achieve a minimal production of 80,000 ounces of gold per year. Finally, the construction of a gold refinery in the special economic zone of Nkok will be the culmination of our strategy, since it will allow us to contribute to the local industrial vision.
What measures are in place to ensure the sustainable development of the industry?
MOUSSAVOU: With regards to legislation, sites are subjected to environmental and social impact assessments and feasibility studies. The objective of these surveys is to estimate the effects of mining activities on the environment and the long-term exploitability of a deposit, as well as to assess the economic and social benefits of a project. Extracting activities are then subjected to international norms concerning good operational conduct through the implementation of best practice. The Ministry of Mining is also putting an emphasis on good governance and human resources management to improve service quality.
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