On April 4, 2013, the Council of Ministers of Gabon adopted a draft law regulating the mining sector, which aims to reform the mining sector of Gabon[1] by introducing a new institutional, fiscal and technical framework.

Since he took office in 2009, the President of Gabon, Ali Bongo Ondimba, is determined to implement and chart an ambitious program of economic reforms, including the reform of the mining sector, one of the cornerstones for shaping up the future prosperity of the country. In implementing this policy, known as "Gabon emerging at dawn 2025", this country is adopting clear rules that govern mining activities in Gabon as well as incentives to promote and make more attractive this very important sector for the future of the country.

Notable innovations include:

  1. The adoption of a new institutional framework to better manage the sector, which will comprise: the Minister, the Regulatory Authority, the National Operator (Société équatoriale des Mines), an Industrial Responsibility Fund for mining support with provisions relating to corporate social responsibility, as well as advisory bodies.
  2. The setting of the rate of State participation in mining companies that hold titles, which is not provided for in the mining code[2].  This will now facilitate the negotiation of mining agreements with the State. Actually, the draft law is setting a 10% free non-dilutable shareholding of the State with the possibility of acquiring an additional up to 25% interest for a fee.
  3. The introduction of the authorization to exploit tailings generated by operating activities. These provisions represent a major step. With regulations for exploiting tailings, Gabon will become the second Central African nation to establish such a license, after the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has a long mining tradition. One such authorization will allow non-holders of a license to obtain, through total or partial assignment of a holder of a permit or a valid exploitation license[3], the right to exploit mineral substances contained in tailings (mine dumps and heaps) from old pyro-metallurgical or hydro-metallurgical processing. Likewise, Gabon, as sole owner of the mines, will have the opportunity to grant to any eligible person, the right to exploit tailings generated by previous mining activities of a former holder of a permit or an operating authority, the right to extract, process, and transform mineral substances contained in these tailings[4].
  4. The institution and the development of a legal framework for research and exploitation of radioactive substances, considered as being naturally strategic.
  5. Taxation of several obligations, including that of local transformation of mineral substances, training of local staff and promotion of a class of national entrepreneurs. In accordance with article 213 of the draft law, these local processing activities will benefit from an attractive fiscal and customs regime. The draft law also provides for social and industrial obligations for mining companies carrying out activities that contribute to the socio-economic development of the country.
  6. The setting of operators’ clear and specific obligations during the period following the end of mining operations.
  7. The development of certain derogations, relating especially to fiscal, customs and technical issues, for the purpose of giving mine operators the option to conduct their business in accordance with the Government Investment Policy.
  8. The inclusion of exemptions for major mining projects and security of mining titles to ensure a stable environment for investors.
  9. The annulment of any mining authorization or title vitiated with irregularities or obtained on the basis of fraudulent information[5]

The draft law was submitted to the Parliament of Gabon for discussion and adoption. According to the Constitution of Gabon, draft laws presented by the Government are introduced to Parliament for review by both Chambers, which must  adopt an identical text after it has been discussed in the relevant committees of each Chamber[6].

Therefore, after its adoption by both Chambers, the draft law regulating the mining sector will be submitted to the President of the Republic[7], for promulgation within 25 days following its submission to the Government.