Nigeria withholds over 1,600 mining licenses

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Nigeria suspends over 1,600 mining licenses
mining site

Nigeria has revoked the operating license of 1,663 mining operators, citing the non-payment of annual service fees by the titleholders as the primary reason.

Minister of Solid Minerals Dele Alake told a press conference Tuesday in the capital of Abuja that the revocation of titles followed the non-compliance with a 30-day notice of payment issued to defaulting titleholders in the country.

The move marked a significant step in restructuring the mining sector and ensuring financial compliance among industry participants, he said.

“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work with the mines inspectorate of the ministry to apprehend any defaulter found on any of the areas where titles have been revoked,” Alake said, noting the government’s move was backed by the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act of 2007.

The affected licenses, covering a diverse array of minerals and locations across the country, were subjected to a meticulous review that revealed a widespread pattern of non-compliance with the mandatory annual service fees, the minister said.

These fees, a crucial component of the regulatory framework, are intended to fund essential services related to mining activities in the most populous African country.

“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,” Alake said, explaining that every sector required a governance system that regulates the conduct of its participants, including the procedures for entry and exit, government’s obligations to participants and the penalties for non-compliance.

The minister also hinted at an impending move by the government to review, upwardly, the annual service fee. The ministry has outlined a roadmap for reinstating licenses, which includes the prompt payment of outstanding service fees, adherence to environmental standards, and engagement in community development initiatives.

“It is indeed very unconscionable for corporate bodies making huge profits from mining to refuse to give the government its own due by failing to pay their annual service fee,” Alake said.

The Nigerian government has said that the restructuring aims not only to enforce compliance but also to encourage a more sustainable and socially responsible approach to mining in the long run.

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