The fact that the mining sector will become a development engine in the coming years amounts to saying that several mining industries will be in the commercialization phase in the very near future. And yet, to reach this stage, a mining project must go through a feasibility study and an exploration phase that consists in identifying sites where the minerals are really exploitable and how to exploit them. If the deposit is large enough to prove the economic viability of the project and justify its operation, the project enters the development phase of setting up the facilities necessary for the operation. It is only later that the project enters the production and marketing phase.
The exploration phase lasts an average of five to ten years. In some cases, this period is much longer. The development phase lasts on average three years. Thus, it would take a mining project about eight to thirteen years before entering the exploitation phase. For reference, 17 years elapsed between the start of exploration work for Phelps Dodge Madagascar SARL, a former license holder for Ambatovy and Nickel's first shipment for marketing.
And yet, since 2010, the Government has blocked the processing and issuance of mining permits. This blocking concerns not only new applications but also requests for renewal, transfer and lease out. Which is without legal foundation. In the absence of permits, companies can not carry out any exploration activity and it is impossible to raise funds on the international market to finance research.