The federal government has revoked the operating licence of 1,633 mining title holders, for failure to pay annual service due to the government’s coffer.
Dele Alake, the minister of Solid minerals disclosed this during a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, stating that the move was aimed at sanitising the sector and freeing up space for new investors who will live up to expectations.
According to him, holders of exploration titles are expected to pay N1,500 per cadastral unit not exceeding 200 units, while those holding titles covering more than 200 units pay N2,000 per unit.
He decried the failure of companies to pay as and when due.
“It is indeed very unconscionable for corporate bodies making huge profits from mining to refuse to give the government its due by failing to pay their annual service fee,” he said. “It is indeed a reasonable conjecture that such a company will even be more unwilling to pay royalties and honour its tax obligations to the government. The amount the companies are being asked to pay is peanut compared to their revenue projections.”
He stated that in compliance with the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act 2007, the Mining Cadastre Office on October 4, 2023, began the process of revoking 2,213 titles, including 795 exploration titles, 956 small-scale mining licences, 364 quarry licences and 98 mining leases.
These according to him were published in the Federal Government Gazette Number 178, Volume 110 of October 10, 2023, with the notice of revocation for defaulting in the payment of the annual service fee.
“The mandatory 30 days expired on November 10, 2023. Only 580 titleholders responded by settling their indebtedness. With this development, the MCO recommended the revocation of 1, 633 mineral titles including exploration licence, 536; quarry licence, 279; small-scale mining licence, 787 and mining lease, 31.
“In line with the powers conferred on me by the NMMA 2007, Section 5 (a), I have approved the revocation of the 1,633 titles. I hereby warn the previous holders of these titles to leave the relevant cadaster with immediate effect as security agencies shall work with the mines inspectorate of the Ministry to apprehend any defaulter found on any of the areas where titles have been revoked,” he said.
Alake speaking further, explained that the philosophy of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act 2007 is to establish a rational system of administering titles transparently and comprehensively to ensure a seamless transition from reconnaissance to exploration and from exploration to mineral extraction.
He also warned all illegal miners to deviate from the Act or face the wrath of the law.
He also explained that sites revoked may not be granted back to the former holder as their chances of owning mining sites in the country may be jeopardised.
“Those that fall into the category of illegal miners are always found wanting, and they are not licensed. We warn all illegal miners to deviate from such acts or face the wrath of the law,” he said.