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Nigerian government revokes 1,633 mining licences

The Nigerian government has revoked the operating licence of 1,633 mining title holders over failure to pay their annual service fees, and the action was in line with the powers conferred on the Minister by the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act 2007, Section 5 (a),

Penpushing reports that the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dele Alake, made this known on Tuesday at a press conference held in Abuja, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), and warned the previous holders of these titles to leave the relevant cadaster with immediate effect.

‘In line with the powers conferred on me by the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act 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work with the mines inspectorate of the Ministry to apprehend any defaulter found on any of the areas where titles have been revoked’, he said.

Penpushing further reports that Alake explained that every sector requires a governance system that regulates the conduct of its participants, the procedures for entry and exit, the obligations of the government to participants and the penalties for non-compliance.

‘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 renaissance to exploration and from exploration to mineral extraction’, Alake added.

‘The principal agency for the administration of titles is the Mining Cadastral Office (MCO) which receives applications, evaluates them and issues titles with the approval of the office of the Honourable Minister of Solid Minerals Development’, he stated.

Penpushing also reports that Alake noted that the Mining Cadastral Office (MCO) has tried to improve its efficiency by adopting new application administration technology, it continues to face challenges in monitoring the compliance of title holders with the most basic requirements for the maintenance of its operations and sustenance of titles.

‘For instance, while Section 10 (a) prescribes payment for processing of applications, Section 10 subsection B provides for the payment of the Annual Service Fee. 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. 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’.

Penpushing reports that the Minister stated that  the amount the companies are being asked to pay is meagre compared to their revenue projections, and cited example that the holder of an exploration title pays only N1,500 per cadastral unit not exceeding 200 units.

Those holding titles covering more than 200 units pay N2,000 per unit. In short, the larger the area your title covers, the more you pay. This principle was applied to ensure that applicants don’t hold more than they require to explore. With a cadastral unit captured as a square of 500 meters by 500 meters, any law-abiding titleholder should not hesitate to perform its obligations’.

‘Sections 11 and 12 of the NMMA 2007 state in clear terms as follows: 11. A mineral title shall become liable to revocation where the holder thereof has failed to pay the prescribed fees, the Minister emphasised

‘In case of default of payment of the annual service fee due to the Mining Cadastre Office, the Mining Cadastre Office shall give a thirty-day written default notice to the defaulting party and, if payment is not effected during that period, the Mining Cadastre Office shall record the default and revoke the mineral title,” he said.

Penpushing further reports that Alake stressed that  the title administration portal of the the Mining Cadastral Office (MCO) automatically notifies every mineral title holder of its obligation to pay the annual service as at when due.

‘This is the first administrative alert signal that every mineral title holder receives and should ordinarily prompt the company to settle its obligation. The Law has also put in place a procedure for notification by providing that MCO issues a 30-day notice and the means to perform the procedure’, Alake said.

Penpushing also reports that the Minister explained that in compliance with the law the Mining Cadastral Office (MCO) on 4 October 2023, began the process of revoking 2,213 titles, adding that these included 795 Exploration titles, 956 Small Scale Mining Licences, 364 Quarry licences and 98 Mining Leases.

‘These were published in the Federal Government Gazette Number 178, Volume 110 of 10 October 2023, with the notice of revocation for defaulting in the payment of annual service fee’, the minister said.

‘The mandatory 30 days expired on 10 November 2023. Only 580 titleholders responded by settling their indebtedness. With this development, the MCO recommended the revocation of 1,633 mineral titles as follows: Exploration License, 536; Quarry Licence, 279; Small Scale Mining Licence, 787 and Mining Lease, 31,” he said.

‘We have no doubt in our mind that the noble goals of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR to sanitise the solid minerals sector and position the industry for international competitiveness is alive and active. We appeal to all stakeholders for their cooperation in achieving these patriotic objectives and encourage those who have done business in this sector the wrong way to turn a new leaf’, he added.

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