An affordable exploration and mining licence administration system for developing countries. (WC/98/062).


The purpose of the project was to develop a simple, adaptable PC-based system for the management of mineral exploration and mining licences, able to generate up-to-date hard copy maps and data, supporting effective management and development of the mineral sector.

Desk studies of mining law in about twenty countries showed that despite local variations in legal provisions reflecting the local mining history, there are common patterns in the data. These patterns were analysed, and used to construct a generalised logical data model. A checklist was prepared to summarise the most significant provisions in the different mining laws. The generalised logical data model and the checklist will make the design and implementation of new licence management systems for developing countries faster and more robust.

A general specification for computer hardware and software was drawn up, but because of the rapid development of computer products this list can only be taken as a guide to the required functionality. The market should be surveyed for the best options at the time of equipping a new mining licence system. It is likely that the cost of equipment will fall rather than rise, so the estimated costs given will be useful for budgeting. The project found that there are low-cost commercial products currently available which fully meet the needs of the system. Most, if not all of these products are likely to be available and supported in developing countries. The database package chosen was Access 2, later updated to Access 97. The GIS software chosen was ArcView because of compatibility with existing systems in Guyana.

With the agreement of the Commissioner of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission a trial installation of the system was made in Guyana. The legal requirements and administrative procedures were examined in detail. A physical database model was designed, and the experience of doing so led to some improvements in the general logical model. It was agreed that the small-scale mining permits would not be included in the trial, partly because no locational co-ordinates were held for the areas granted. Much more documentation is available for medium-and large-scale permit / licence areas, of which there are more than 3 000, making it a very good test of the system. A strategy was devised for loading the data held on paper records onto the database in file number order, but because of various unforeseen external circumstances this was changed to a slower system of loading files when they require attention in the normal order of events, which is a more robust procedure. The data-loading procedure was operational, but data retrieval cannot be fully tested until a larger volume of data is available. The use of mail-merge to produce official documents directly from the database produced significant efficiency benefits.

The concept of an integrated database and GIS system to form a licence management system has been seen as necessary and beneficial by all the administrations visited during the scoping study. Discussions with mining companies have also produced favourable comments on what the project has to offer. Limited publicity has been given to the system, which has produced two further serious enquiries about adopting the system for national mining licence administration. There is likely to be a need for external funding for future applications of the products of this project, since the countries which have enquired so far are unlikely to be able to fund the work from their own budgets.

This report is available to download in full colour (5900 kb) and black and white (5111 kb).


Coats, J.S.; Jones, R.C.; Davies, B.J. An affordable exploration and mining licence administration system for developing countries. (WC/98/062). (1998)

An affordable exploration and mining licence administration system for developing countries. (WC/98/062).

Published 1 January 1998