It is a condition of all exploration permits that a portion of the permit area is relinquished. The relinquishment schedule for each exploration permit outlines when the period reduction in the permit area is due to occur. The area of an EPC or an EPM must be reduced by:
(a) 40% of the original area by the end of the first three years after the permit is granted (i.e. end of first work period); and
(b) a further 50% of the remaining area at the end of five years (i.e. end of second work period).
There are additional reporting requirements at each relinquishment, including an obligation to provide a summary of the activities carried out, including maps, and a digital copy of all geochemical and geophysical surveying data. Further details on the relinquishment requirements, including the reporting requirement are provided in the DNRM Relinquishment Guide.
MINIMUM EXPENDITURE AND OTHER CONDITIONS
Exploration permits carry a condition that the holder must carry out the program of works and studies for the purpose that exploration permit was granted. The Minister may also include as a condition of grant that the holder comply with minimum work commitments and expenditure requirements during the term. Other conditions include specific annual reporting requirements which are used to determine that minimum expenditure and the program of works conditions are complied with, and the payment of an annual rent.
An exploration permit holder must also report the discovery of any minerals to DNRM within 14 days of the discovery. This is imposed where the mineral appears to be of commercial value in ‘payable quantities’.
MDLs entitle the holder to carry out the same exploration activities that were authorised under the exploration permit from which the MDL was sought.
MDLs also entitle the holder, at the exclusion of all others, to seek an ML within the MDL area.
The Minister may require more detailed exploration efforts under an MDL. This also authorises the holder to undertake activities that are required to carry out those activities. For example, the Minister may require:
(a) geological, geophysical and geochemical programs and other works as are reasonably necessary to evaluate the potential for development of any mineral occurrence of possible economic potential occurring in or on the area of the mineral development licence;
(b) mining feasibility studies;
(c) metallurgical testing;
(d) environmental studies;
(e) marketing studies;
(f) engineering and design studies; and
(g) such other activities as the Minister considers appropriate.
In some cases, additional activities, such as bulk sampling, are required in order to comply with the MDL requirements, and as a result those activities are authorised under the MDL.