The Nigerian government warns investors who have been given licenses for solid minerals development in the country to start prospecting or lose them by March 1
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Mar 7, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT |
AHEAD of the March 1, deadline for the enforcement of the “Use it or lose it” clause in the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act 2007, the ministry of solid minerals development has concluded arrangements to publish the list of owners of dormant mining licenses. Kayode Fayemi, minister of solid minerals development, who disclosed plans by the ministry to revoke all dormant mining licenses, said a situation where four of every five mining licenses issued in the country remained unused was no longer acceptable.
He said the administration would no longer accept operators who kept their licenses from the purpose for which they were issued, adding that such licenses would be revoked and issued to genuine mining investors who are ready to make use of them.
Addressing informal and artisanal miners in Kurukpa, in Chachangi local government area of Niger State, during a one- day working visit to mining sites in the state on Monday, February 22, Fayemi said the ministry would begin to formalise illegal miners into a structure to enable them earn their livelihood in a safe environment and according to the world standard.
“We are not here to criminalise you but to let you know that illegal mining is dangerous to health and the environment. We are ready to give you all necessary support to ensure that you carry out your mining activities in the proper manner. You can obtain your license either as an individual or as a cooperative. The ministry officials will help you and ensure you get your licenses to operate within the confines of laid down laws,” Fayemi said.
The federal government will devise means of assisting them with necessary equipment and financial support among others.
Fayemi had during his maiden press briefing in December 2015 gave owners of dormant licences up until March 1, to use the licences or lose them. He also expressed government readiness to invoke the extant laws to bring illegal miners to justice in its bid to diversify the economy.
He said the nation had the potential to become a global leading player in the sector with 44 key minerals, which he said, could be found in about 350 locations in the 36 states. He identified poor management of the sector in the last 55 years of independence as the reason why Nigeria had not gotten enough return in terms of foreign exchange, investment and job opportunities.
The minister explained that solid minerals and agriculture were very dear to the president in his plan to widen the nation’s income base and provide employment opportunities. He added that nothing would be spared to restore vibrancy to the sector. He said the ministry is blessed with experts in geophysics, mineral resources, geology, metallurgical and material engineering, among others to translate the dream to reality.
“Though, I may not be an expert in mineral resources management, but having superintended over every sector as a governor, I think I have the experience. The task is not even about expertise, but service. I should be able to work with these experts to bring about the needed change in the sector.”