Neither the NMP nor the mining rules of the three provinces examined as part of this review imposes excessive restrictions limiting the areas available for exploration and mining. This does not appear to be a problem under the rules for mining in Pakistan. Availability of Information on Existing Licenses/Leases and Applications the NMP provides, in paragraph 3.3.1(vi), that the Department of Mineral Development in each mineral rich province will be responsible for “maintenance of up-to-date master plans showing positions of all exploration licenses and leases granted, renewals, assignments and surrenders of mineral titles, relinquishment of acreage etc. and make this information public through regular publication of complete details in the official gazette.” This is a fundamental component of a private sector-led mineral development policy. However, this provision of the NMP does not go far enough. Balochistan and Sindh have specific rules on the receipt, time-stamping and acknowledgement of applications for mineral rights, in section 10 of their respective rules, but
Punjab does not. All three of the provinces have a series of general rules on the maintenance of title registries that are reasonably good. However, only issued titles are recorded in such registries. None of the three provinces provides for the establishment and rigorous maintenance of a registry of applications filed for mineral titles. An efficient, objective, and rigorously maintained registry of applications for mineral titles is perhaps the central feature of a modern legal framework for private sector mineral exploration and production activity. Rules governing how, when and by whom information is recorded in the registries of applications and titles should be set forth in the mining law and/or regulations with precision. Such provisions are found in the mining laws of the Latin American countries that have been the most successful in the world in attracting a greater share of the global capital invested in minerals exploration during the last decade: Chile, Peru, Mexico and Bolivia. The best example in Asia would be the 1997 Minerals Law of Mongolia; and among Anglophone African countries, the Mining Act, 1998, of Tanzania. The 2002 Mining Code of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (in French, but with English translation available) also makes this feature paramount.
Balochistan requires relinquishment of 50% of the license area at the time of each of the two permitted renewals of the exploration license; whereas Sindh only requires relinquishment of50% of the license area at the time of the second renewal. It appears that voluntary relinquishment is also encouraged through the license amendment process. The rules of the provinces also provide that reconnaissance and exploration rights continue in effect as to the areas not relinquished or transformed into another type of license or lease, which is appropriate Relinquishment does not appear to be a problem area. Transfers Consistent with the NMP, the provinces do not permit transfers of reconnaissance licenses, but do permit transfers of exploration licenses after the first two years, subject to approval by the licensing authority based on a review of the qualifications of the transferee to hold the license.
The restrictions on transfers do not appear to be unreasonable, on the one hand; however, ease of transferability of mining titles has been a key factor in promoting investment in the mining sector of the most successful mining countries such as Chile, Mexico and Peru, where transfers of exploration titles are subject to easier and less restrictive procedures than in the provinces of Pakistan. Among the Anglophone countries of Africa, both Tanzania and Botswana revised their mining laws in 1998 to liberalize the provisions on transfers of mineral titles consistent with evolving best international practice.