Although uranium has historically been Niger’s primary mineral product, its gold mining industry is set to grow dramatically based on potential gold mining projects being developed and evaluated by Canadian, Australian and South African mining and exploration companies. Niger’s coloured gemstone potential is about to be assessed by Canadian Consolidated Pacific Bay Resources who have secured prospecting rights that covering 20 000 km2. Areas include the Air Massif region in the north, Liptako region in the west and the Damagaram-Mounio, Zinder and Maradi areas in the south.
Mineral Policy and Legislation
There are four types of licence available for companies and individuals interested in exploration and development of mineral resources. A Prospecting Authorisation gives the holder the right to search for one or a number of minerals. It is non-exclusive but confers to the holder the rights to first refusal to an exclusive exploration permit within the limits and time validity of the Authorisation.
Prospecting Authorisations are valid for one year, renewable indefinitely for one year periods. Surface and underground prospecting is permitted, as is the use of remote sensing techniques. The objective of the prospecting programme must be stated in the application, although there are no fee or land holding requirements.
An Exploration Permit is valid for three-years, renewable for two further three-year periods subject to certain land holding reduction criteria and field works. The area held under a permit cannot exceed 2,000 km² in a rectangular block.
An Exploration Permit confers to the holder the right to dispose of any minerals obtained during exploration and testwork, and also confers the right to a Mining Permit if a viable reserve is discovered. Applications must stipulate the minerals sought (additional minerals can be included later), and a time and expenditure schedule. A variable fee (CFA F 300.000) is tied to the permit, and holders are required to submit progress reports to the Government on their activities.
A Mining Permit will be granted in the case of successful exploration, subject to the right of the Government to participate in the project. A ’small mine’ permit is valid for five years, renewable 3 times for five-year periods, while a ‘large mine’ permit lasts for 20 years initially, renewable 2 times per period of 10 years. Further extensions are possible if commercial reserves remain.
Companies applying for Mining Permits must conform to Nigerian Company law. The Government requires an initial 10 % share in the mining project, free of all costs, which can be later increased to a maximum of 33 % through share purchases. Fees for mining permits are around $1,400 and $2,000 for small and large mining permits respectively.
The fourth type of licence is the Authorisation for Small-Scale Mining, and it concerns artisanal level of production.
Fiscal Regime and Commercial Legislation
The Government welcomes overseas private investment as a key to relaunching the national economy, and the new mining code contains a number of incentives for potential investors. These include income tax holidays and many exemptions (customs duty exemption, exemption in some cases from value-added tax, the right to remit dividends freely) equal opportunities for overseas and national investors, and guaranteed freedom from nationalisation or expropriation.
Mining companies are subject to a number of fees and taxes:
Annual area fees are related to the licenses except to the prospecting autorisation.
Mining royalties is payable at a rate of 5,5 % of the final selling price of the mineral commodity produced. Royalties are, however, deductible from income tax, which is levied at a rate of 45 % after the deduction of operating and production costs. Small mines enjoy a two-year income tax holiday, while for large mines this period extends to five years from the start of commercial production. Dividends distributed to share holders attract a 16 % capital gains tax. Other charges include stamp duty, public notary fees, value added tax and social security contributions for employees.
Customs duties are not charged on equipment imported for use for direct mining operations, or temporarily for exploration programs. Mineral products may be exported free of duty.
Niger uses the CFA francs, (FF 1 = CFA F 100), which is tied to the French franc and is fully convertible. Foreign exchange regulations are very liberal, although with the requirement that overseas transactions must be authorised by the Ministry of Finance and made through a registered bank.
Trendfield Energy and Resources, African GeoMin Mining Development Corporation, Compagnie Miniere d’Akouta, Ministry of Mines and Energy, Niger Ministry of Mines and Energy, Office National des Ressources Minieres du Niger, Societé des Mines de l’Air, Societe des Mines du Liptako, Societé Miniere de Tassa N’Taghalgue, Société Miniere de Tassa n’Taghalgue, Societé Miniere du Niger, Societé Nigerienne du Charbon d’Anou Araren
Akouta, Anou-Aaren, Arlit, Koma Bangou, Samira Hill, Taza