I knew a certain area was getting vacant and stayed awake all night outside the Mining Commission and I was the first one to lodge my application at 9am for a Prospecting Licence (PL) over that area. I am told that at around 11am and 3pm that same day, two other individuals applied for a PL over the same area. Considering the law says whoever applies first gets priority, am I not entitled to the PL ahead of these two other individuals?
No. You are not automatically entitled to the area being the first one to lodge on the same day, and all the 3 PL applications have to be determined on their merits.
The Mining Act Cap 123 RE 2019 in section 14 is very clear that where two or more persons, not acting together as partnership or joint venture, each make a specified application for the grant of a mineral right over the same area of land, or over areas of land, parts of which are the same area, the person whose application was first registered under this Act shall, if the circumstances are satisfied, be granted the mineral right for which he has applied. This section further states that where two or more specified applications are received on the same day by an authorized officer or officers during the hours of business appointed by the Commission for the receipt of applications, those applications shall be deemed to have been received simultaneously and priority between them shall be determined by the licensing authority in such manner as may be prescribed in the regulations.
Hence, unlike the previous Mining Act (now repealed), which allowed for one to compete on the time of lodging, and which resulted in huge queues outside the Ministry of Minerals, the current law does not have such a provision and all applications lodged on the same day, irrespective of the time of lodging, are treated equally.