The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr Dele Alake, on Tuesday announced revocation of 1,633 mining titles for defaulting on payment of annual service fees.
Mr Alake made this known at a news conference in Abuja on Tuesday.
According to him, in compliance with the law, the Mining Cadastral Office, MCO, on October 4, began the process of revoking 2,213 titles.
“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 Oct. 10 with the notice of revocation for defaulting in the payment of annual service fee.
“The mandatory 30 days expired on Nov. 10. Only 580 title holders responded by settling their indebtedness.
“With this development, the 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.
“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,” the minister said.
He said that the titles would be reallocated to more serious investors.
He warned the previous holders of the titles to leave the relevant cadaster with immediate effect.
He said that security agencies would work with the mines inspectorate of the ministry to apprehend any defaulter found on any of the areas where titles had been revoked.
“We have no doubt in our mind that the noble goals of President Bola Tinubu to sanitise the solid minerals sector and position the industry for international competitiveness are alive and active.
“We appeal to all stakeholders for their co-operation in achieving these patriotic objectives and encourage those who have done business in this sec tor the wrong way to turn a new leaf.
“Ultimately, the Nigerian people shall be the winners,” he said.
According to Alake, 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.
“The amount the companies are being asked to pay is peanut compared to their own revenue projections.
“For example, 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 do not hold more than they require to explore.
“With a cadastral unit captured as a square of 500 metres by 500 metres, any law-abiding title holder should not hesitate to perform its obligations,” he said.
The minister said that every sector required a governance system that regulated the conduct of its participants, the procedures for entry and exit, the obligations of the government to participants and the penalties for non-compliance.
He said that the philosophy of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act 2007 was 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.
“The principal agency for the administration of titles is the MCO, which receives applications, evaluates them, and issues titles with the approval of the office of minister of solid minerals development.
“Although the 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,” he said.
He warned illegal miners to desist from their illegal activities as their “days were numbered ”.
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