Nigeria: Govt Revoked 3,400 Mining Licences in One Year

20 January 2023

The federal government has disclosed that 3,400 mining licenses were revoked within one year with a promise to revoke other unutilised mining titles in 2023.

The Director-General of the Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office, Obadiah Nkom, who stated this yesterday, while speaking with newsmen at the State House, Abuja, stressed that the application of the principle of, "use it or lose it" to mining title/rights administration and failure to pay up mandatory annual service fees, are responsible for revocation, revealing that some 3,400 titles have been revoked in the last 12 months.

On the principles of allocation of mining licences in Nigeria, Nkom said the agency gives priority to 'first come first served' and 'Use it or lose it'.

He added: "How does the system run? Is on use it or lose it basis? We've had instances where people receive and get licences and keep these licences, and they don't use them. The law is very, very clear on that. What does that mean? We give you the license. If you don't adhere to the provisions of the Act, you lose it. How do you lose it, you lose it by way of revocation and it's not arbitrary. We give you a notice of default, for you to be able to remedy the defect, we give you 30 days, in line with the law.

"You can decide to remedy the effect on the 29th day. We are fine with that, but once it is 30 days, and you don't remedy the defects, then we revoke the title because we know that all these are subjects to litigations."

He added that in a move to generate appropriate revenue for the government, the Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office, which is responsible for the management and administration of mineral titles in the country, would still go ahead to revoke more unutilised mining titles in 2023.

He also said the agency generated N14.59 billion between 2018 and 2022 from the issuance of mining licences

Speaking on incomes, Nkom said the agency, in 2018, 2019 and 2020, generated N1.55 billion, N2.38 billion and N2.57 billion respectively.

However, between 2021 and 2022, the agency's revenue fell from N4.3 billion to N3.79 billion respectively, attributing this drop in revenue to changes in its internal operating system which temporarily affected revenue inflow.

Nkom, whose appointment was recently renewed for another four years, explained that there are restrictions and conditionalities for the issuance of coal mining licenses in Nigeria.

"We have to be very strategic, and also take into account current global issues. The Mining Cadastre Office does not just issue licenses, we look at the future, issues of sustainability, maximising value, strategically ensuring Nigeria is properly managing her mineral wealth to achieve maximum economic value and diversification", he explained.

Nkom said the agency generated over three billion naira for the country last year alone, explaining that the agency generated the funds through its major mandate of issuing licenses to miners.

"My mandate is simply administration of mineral titles in line with the provisions of the Act establishing the agency. The agency came into being in 2007 with the re-enactment of the Act.

"So, the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act establish the Nigerian Mining Cadastre Office in 2007 with clear mandates as to administration and management of minerals titles and maintenance of the Cadastre register. The essence of that is to ensure that is to ensure that minerals titles are administered and manage in the most transparent manner.

"Revenue Generation is key because we have had to be able to ensure that we improve on it. We had 86 percent increase in revenue from 2001. But I can tell you that with the new system, without mincing words that subsequently we are going to have a steady increase.

"In our revenue generation, it is nothing, but application fees, processing fees and the annual service fee. We are not in charge of other activities like payment of royalties and so on. So, even with these little aspects of revenue components we still want to ensure that at the end of the day our revenue increase and we are able to add to the development of Nigeria and increase the wellbeing of citizens particularly the key components of job creation and revenue, based on our vision for the country," he said.

The Director General said the Cadastre has of recent witnessed an increase in the number of applications for mining permits, due to the transparent nature of the process.

"Among our key accomplishments, is the more you are transparent the more you will be able to see people coming in to submit application. So we have quite an increase in that regard and the increase is not just nationally you have foreign investors getting attracted by way of our transparency, our policies and the way things are being done.

"We have also opened zonal offices, which has taken it closer to the people and the intent of the agency is to be able to ensure that we reduce the number of illegal or informal miners so that at the end of the day, we make licencing easier for them." he added.

Nkom added that the agency collaborates closely with state governments in order to advice the Minister of Mines and Steel Development on mining matters.

He further said the agency is also looking at the coal sector because of the emergence of coal to power projects to increase energy alternatives for citizens.

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