By Goodluck Ikiebe
L-R : Dr. Mary Ogbe, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Solid Minerals Development/ Steel Development; Hon Minister, Dr Oladele Alake; Mr Ime Ekrikpo, Director, Investment Promotion & Mineral Trade ( IPMT) Department.
MINING SECTOR: FG WIELDS BIG STICK; REVOKES 1,633 MINERAL TITLES
As part of its efforts to sanitize and reposition the solid mineral sector of the economy for international competitiveness, the Federal Government has wielded the big stick of revoking 1,633 minerals titles of defaulting mining companies.
The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr Oladele Alake made this announcement during a News conference on the revocation of defaulting mineral titles, held at the Ministry’s Headquarters Office in Abuja.
Dr. Alake explained that the extant law governing mineral titles empowered the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development to revoke the mineral titles of companies, who refuse to give the government its due by failing to pay their annual service fee.
He said: ” 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.”
Quoting extensively from the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act 2007 ( NMMA Act 2007), the Minister stated that section 10 subsection b of the Act provides for the payment of the Annual Service Fee by mining companies, which is a fee established at a fixed rate per square cadastral unit for administrative and management services rendered by the Mining Cadastre Office ( an agency of the Ministry).
Elaborating further, Dr Alake submitted that the amount the companies are being asked to pay is a peanut compared to their own revenue projections. For example, the holder of an exploraton 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 500metres by 500 metres, any law- abiding title holder should not hesitate to perform its obligations”‘, the Minister emphasized.
On whether adequate notice was given to the defaulting mining companies, the Minister explained that aside the administrative alert signal received by mineral title holder for payment as at when due, the Mining Cadastre Office has also issued a 30- day notice in compliance with section 14 of the NMMA Act 2007.
” The mandatory 30 days expired on November 10, 2023. Only 580 title holders responded by settling their indebtedness. With this development, the Mining Cadastre Office ( MCO) recommended the revocation of 1,633 mineral titles as follows: Exploration Licence 536; Quarry Licence 279; Small Scale Mining Licence 787 and Mining Lease 31 ”, the Minister explained.
Riding on this, Dr Alake emphatically declared: ”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 cadastre 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”.
“The revocation is imperative to free up space for serious investors and to shore up the revenue to the government”, the Minister noted.