Panthera Resources plc (LON: PAT), the gold exploration and development company with assets in India and West Africa, has today provided an update on the Galaxy Partnership progress, potential favorable changes to the Indian Mining legislation and implication of the recently announced Indian elections.
· Galaxy has advised Panthera that the second payment due under the Partnership Agreement by 31 March 2019 (see announcement dated 20 Dec. 2018) will be sent by the end of April 2019. This minor delay is due to administration and process issues associated with the Indian financial year end (31 March) for Galaxy.
· Indian national elections were announced on 12 March and will dominate political and bureaucratic activity in the country until shortly after their completion on 19 May.
· A new National Mineral Policy has been announced, which articulates several relevant and positive proposed changes and initiatives including:
o Seamless transition from Reconnaissance Permit to Prospecting Licence
o Assured security of tenure along with transferability of concessions
o Simpler, transparent, accountable and time bound procedures to facilitate exploration
· The date for the Company’s next Rajasthan High Court hearing is 15 April.
Geoff Stanley, Panthera Resources Managing Director said
“Over the last several weeks I have participated in a series of positive meetings in India with representatives of Galaxy and its partners. These meetings have advanced our strategic planning for PL negotiations and discussions regarding Galaxy’s planned BSE listing and we are confident in our partner’s long term commitment to participating in the advancement of the Bhukia JV project. These discussions have been taking place against the backdrop of a likely progressive improvement in the legislative outlook for the mining industry as foreshadowed by the recently announced National Mineral Policy 2019.”
New Mining Policy Announced
The Government of India recently released the National Mineral Policy 2019, which will be considered for implementation by the Government of India following the conclusion of the national elections. The NMP has been under consideration for several years and appears to address some key issue raised in multiple forums by the Industry post the amendment of the Mining Act in 2015. However, the extent and speed of implementation will be critical factors in determining the impact on Panthera.
Some of the key proposals of the NMP are:
· Procedures for grant of mineral concessions should be transparent and seamless with an assured security of tenure along with transferability of concessions playing a key role in mineral sector development.
· It speaks of attracting private investments in exploration within the ambit of auction regime, through Right of First Refusal at the time of auction or seamless transition from Reconnaissance Permit to Prospecting Licence to Mining Lease or any other appropriate incentive as per international practice.
· The NMP also states that special attention would be given to the prospecting and exploration of minerals in which the country has a poor resource-cum-reserve base despite having the geological potential for large resources. Energy critical minerals, fertilizer minerals, precious metals and stones, strategic minerals and other deep-seated minerals would be considered under this ambit.
· Clearances for grant of tenements would be streamlined with simpler, transparent, accountable and time bound procedures to facilitate exploration in order to conform to the statutory requirements especially for geologically complex deposits.
· Merger and acquisitions of mining entities and transfer of mining leases granted transparently will be encouraged by introducing appropriate incentives in existing laws
Other elements of the Policy include:
· Government will establish a Mining Tenement System (MTS) which would primarily involve automating the entire concession life-cycle
· Baseline and mineral exploration data generated by various government agencies as well as mineral concession holders will be collated and maintained for open dissemination as a public good.
· Attracting foreign investment in the mining sector will be encouraged by appropriate mechanism. A long-term export-import policy for the mineral sector would provide stability and prove to be an incentive for investing in large scale commercial mining activity.
· Special attention would be given to the protection and welfare of those people affected by mining projects. A mechanism will be evolved which would actually improve the living standards of the affected population and ensure them a sustainable income.
Indian Elections and the Writ Petition Hearings in the High Court of Rajasthan, Jodhpur
Indian elections were announced on 12 March and will occur between 11 April and 19 May. Because of the size of the Indian democracy the elections are to be held in seven phases, with results to be known on 23 May. Once elections are announced in India, election rules prevent the incumbent government from enacting any meaningful legislation or making significant decisions, which has the effect of stalling progress on many fronts.
While the Courts are not bound by these rules, it is unusual for them to make major decisions in cases such as ours which involve the Government. Our case is scheduled for 15 April and because it falls during the period of the elections, it is reasonable to expect that our case will be rescheduled for a date following the elections. In the meantime, our very strong Stay Order remains in place and protects the rights of the joint venture over the entire area of the PL application.