Lesotho has never had a commercial mine for gold. But, its skilled artisanal miners still produce a significant amount of gold each year. There are a lot mining opportunities in the country for investors given the fact that not much exploration has been done in the country with an aim of establishing a commercial gold mine.
The mining sector in Lesotho is not well developed with most of its gold being mined by small scale artisanal miners. Commercial gold mining in the country is mainly concentrated on diamond which plays an important role on the economy of the country. The lack of concerted efforts to explore and mine gold on commercial scale is due to lack on finances and inadequate infrastructure. Furthermore gold mining in the country is shadowed by the existence of highly productive gold mines in the neighboring South Africa where most of Lesotho miners work.
The history of gold mining in Lesotho can be traced back to the late 17th century during the early days of the Basotho Kingdom. Most of the gold at the time was mined to make ornaments for the kings household. Since then artisanal mining of alluvial gold along rivers and streams has continued in the kingdom.
Mining Policy in Lesotho
To get into the country’s gold mining you need to understand the country’s mining legal structure. To date Lesotho does not have a stated mining policy. The mining is governed by the mining rights act, ACT 43 enacted in 1967. The act spells out the right for individuals and businesses to prospect and mine various minerals within the country. The 1967 Act seeks to protect the mineral rights in the Kingdom of Lesotho. Prospecting and mining must be conducted under the watch of the right government authority.
A prospecting permit for gold and other precious minerals entitles the holder for a given period to peg a prospecting territory being referred to and mine given minerals. A prospecting permit for non-precious mineral only allows the hold to prospect for the minerals in a given region. A company or an individual can only hold a maxim of ten zones of not more than 40,000 square feet at a time. The prospecting permit holder may apply and be awarded a mining permit in the event that that he demonstrates the presence of economically viable amounts of minerals.
The mining permit qualifies the holder for prospect and mine on the prospecting region, the predetermined minerals and expressed conditions. Prospecting leases for precious minerals such as gold and for different minerals convey the same conditions as prospecting licenses. A mining lease may be awarded to anybody over any area given that the land is under a free hold title for that specific mineral. The holder is qualified to prospect and mine the minerals determined. In all cases time periods are determined in the licenses or leases together with different conditions including, rights, fees for award of the permit, royalties and noncompliance sanctions.
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On the account of prospecting and mining leases the compensation to land owners must be made for any harm to crops or animals. Generally title holders are qualified for utilize the surface territory for any reasons associated with prospecting and mining, subject to whatever other conditions that might be outlined in the permit. After discontinuance of prospecting or mining the permit holder must pay compensation to the Consolidation Fund for any harm to the surface of the area. The level of pay is determined by the Government. The mining rights are transferable by the minister in charge of mining upon application with the relevant documentation. The states of the mineral title won’t be relinquished during the term of the license without the necessary recourse to notices after resistance and failure to cure the default.