Mining License in Ethiopia: Types, Procedures and Regulations

A person is required to obtain a license to engage in mining activity in Ethiopia. Mineral operation licenses are issued by the Federal Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, and the relevant bureau at regional level.

Mining Operations Proclamation No. 678/2010, as amended in 816/2013 DOWNLOAD

The Ministry issues reconnaissance, exploration, retention and mining licenses, special small scale, small scale, and large scale mining operations. The Mineral Licensing and Administration Core Process is the division responsible to receive and process applications and regulate the mineral operations of the licensees.

The Mines Bureaus of National Regional States issue artisanal mining licenses, reconnaissance, exploration and retention licenses with respect to construction and industrial minerals, small scale mining licenses for industrial minerals, large scale mining licenses for construction mineral.

There are 7 types of mining licenses under the Mining Law Regime of Ethiopia: reconnaissance, exploration, retention, artisan, special small scale, small scale, and large scale.

1. Reconnaissance License

This license, which is nonexclusive, is issued for a general search of any mineral. This license doesn’t involve any geological work that would result in the disturbance of the surface of the earth. A reconnaissance license is valid for a duration that does not exceed 18 months and it is not renewable.


2. Exploration License

Exploration license is granted for searching any mineral by means of photographs, images, geological, geochemical, geophysical and drilling methods, in order to establish the existence of any mineral and to determine the extent and economic value. Exclusive exploration license is granted by the licensing authority where the applicant demonstrates that it has access to finance resources and technical ability to conduct the proposed exploration. It is also required to furnish an approved Environmental Impact Assessment. Exploration license is valid for an initial period not exceeding three years. However, extension is allowed in exceptional circumstance for a period not exceeding five years. Holder of an exploration license has a right to apply for a retention mining license.

3. Retention License

This license, as its name denotes, confers certain rights over a discovered mineral deposit.The licensing authority grants an exclusive retention license where the applicant demonstrates that the discovery of the mineral deposit within the exploration area, which has a potential of commercial significance, cannot be developed immediately because of adverse market conditions, or other economic factors, or unavailable processing technologies. A retention license is valid for a period not exceeding three years and can be renewed once for a period not exceeding three years. 

4. Artisan Mining License

Artisan mining means a mining operation carried out by individuals or a small and micro enterprise which is mostly of manual nature and doesn’t involve the engagement of employed workers. An artisan mining license is valid for the period specified in the license, provided that it doesn’t exceed two years. This type of license is not subjected to renewal.


5. Special Small Scale Mining License

This license is allowed for mining operation of gemstones or placer resources of gold, silver, platinum or tantalum of which the annual run-of-mine ore doesn’t exceed 100,000 m3 for placer operation and 75,000 tons for primary deposit mining.

Special small scale mining is operated by individuals or small and micro-enterprises that were the holders of artisan mining license and have sufficient financial capacity to employ modern machineries. A special small scale mining license is granted upon an approval of the proposed work program, and the environmental impact assessment. The licensing authority should also ensure that the applicant is financially capable and was holder of artisan mining license. This type of license has a duration not exceeding 10 years which is renewed within five years. 

6.Retention License

A small scale mining means any mining operation with an annual run-off mine ore that doesn’t exceed a certain amount;

  1. For gold, platinum, silver and other precious and semiprecious minerals:
    1. 100,000 m3 for placer operation;
    2. 75,000 tons for primary deposit mining;
  2. For metallic minerals such as iron, lead, copper and nickel:
    1. 150,000 tons for open pit mining;
    2. 75,000 tons for underground mining operation;
  3. 120,000 tones for industrial minerals such as kaolin, bentonite, diatomite, dolomite, quartz and coal;
  4. For construction minerals:
    1. 80,000 m3 for sand, gravel, pumice, ignimbrite, clay and the like;
    2. 10,000 m3 for dimension stones such as marble and granite;
  5. For geothermal deposit:
    1. 2,000,000 m3 for bathing, recreational and medicinal purpose;
    2. 25 mega watt or geothermal steam capable of generating equivalent power for industrial and other purposes;
  6. 14,000 tons for salts extracted from brines.

The licensing authority grants an exclusive small scale license to an applicant fulfilling the following requirements:

  • approved work plan,
  • accesses to financial resources,
  • and approved Environmental Impact Assessment.

Small scale mining license is valid for a period not exceeding 10 years and it is renewable for a period not exceeding 5 years.


7. Large Scale Mining License

A large scale mining means any mining operation of which the annual run-of-mine ore exceeds the one ascribed for small scale mining with the exception of precious and semi-precious stones. This requires approved work plan, Environmental Impact Assessment, access to financial resources and technical ability. This type of mining license is valid for a period not exceeding 20 years and can be renewed for a period not exceeding 10 years.

Address of the Licensing Body:

Ministry of Mines and Petroleum,
Mining License and Administration
Tel. +251 11 6461214
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.