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FG revokes 1633 mining licences in Nigeria over unpaid fees

The Federal Government, through the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development, has revoked 1633 mineral titles over unpaid annual fees.

This was disclosed by the ministry, Dr Oladele Alake, on Tuesday, at a press briefing in Abuja.

The number of revoked licences this year is less than the 3,402 mineral titles revoked late last year.

According to the minister, the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act (NMMA) 2007 requires mining operators to pay an annual service fee at a fixed rate but some firms are not complying with this law.

Required fees

The minister noted that the amount required annually is as low as N1500 for cadastral units not more than 200 units.

He lamented that the mining firms are making huge profits from mining sites but still fail to make necessary payments to the government.

Alake 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. 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 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 don’t 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.”

Warning notice

The minister said that section 12 of the NMMA 2007 stipulates that when a payment default occurs, the Mining Cadastre Office, which is in charge of mineral titles in the country, should give a 30-day notice to the defaulting party.

However, if such a defaulting party fails to make any payment within that warning period, the licence becomes liable to revocation.

He added that there is a platform called EMC+ for obtaining licences, which automatically notifies licensees.

Alake noted that operators of about 2,213 titles were granted a 30-day notice so that they could pay their fees.

However, only 580 titleholders responded to the notice and paid their annual fees.

He said:

  • “In compliance with the law, the MCO on October 4, 2023, 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 October 10, 2023, with the notice of revocation for defaulting in the payment of the Annual Service Fee.
  • “The mandatory 30 days expired on November 10, 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 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 warned that those whose licences have been revoked should vacate mining sites to avoid being apprehended by security agencies.

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