Mining companies vs. farmers: the earthen pot against the copper pot
Generally exploited in separate areas, agriculture and mining sometimes overlap on the same land with different holders of mining and land rights. M&B gave Barthélemy MUMBA GAMA, former Minister of Agriculture and former Minister of Mines of Katanga, carte blanche to make proposals in response to this conflict situation. Excerpts.

The occupation of land for housing or agriculture is done in accordance with the land code. The State owning the land shall grant natural or legal persons the right to use it under a perpetual or ordinary concession contract. The concession grants the signatory legal or natural person the right to use the land granted to him within the limits, the agreed duration and the conditions set out. 

However, the presence of minerals in the subsoil of an agricultural concession opens the way, despite the existence of land rights, to the acquisition of mining rights such as the exploration permit or the mining permit. 

This occupation by a mining right holder of a field covered by land titles or customary land rights provides the possibility of compensation. As a result, concession owners must vacate the premises. Their compensation is fixed by mutual agreement with the mining company, with recourse to the court if no agreement is reached.

However, the mining code allows the occupier of customary land to continue, with the agreement of the mining company, to exercise his occupation as a farmer, provided that field work does not interfere with exploration or production operations. However, he is not allowed to build buildings on it.

This predominance of mining law over land law also applies to populations living on land with a mineral-rich subsoil. The mining company has the choice of compensating them.

But this option has disadvantages: the freezing of agricultural concessions and insecurity (farmers live in permanent fear of the discovery of minerals in the subsoil of their agricultural land and the loss of their land rights) on the farm. Indeed, the occupation of agrarian land by holders of mining rights does not impose any constraints on them to develop it or to preserve plantations or crops.

To avoid this set-aside, agreements between farmers and mining companies should be reached that allow farmers to continue their agrarian activities. As part of his obligation to contribute to the financing of community development projects, the miner should support farmers sharing the premises. 

Protect agricultural areas, such as national parks     

The agricultural land register should work in harmony with the mining land register and the land register to protect farmers from this threat of camouflaged expropriation and to delimit classified agricultural areas. The involvement of mining rights holders in agricultural activities in the mining area would also significantly reduce the damage caused to the farmers concerned.

This obligation to contribute to the promotion of agriculture should be included in the specifications to be drawn up as part of the social responsibility of the holder of mining rights.

NB: find the full text on www.miningandbusiness.com

Source: Text by the Honourable Barthelemy MUMBA GAMA - Former Provincial Minister of Mines, former Provincial Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock of the former province of Katanga.

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