FG To Review All Mining Licenses, Mining Act, NIOMCO


(News investigators) As part of measures to plug revenue leakages and eliminate other sharp practices in the Solid Minerals sector, the Federal Government has announced plans to review all Mining Licences in the country.

This was as it said it would also review the draft Mining Act, the National Iron Ore Mining Company NIOMCO, Itakpe in Kogi state as well as establish the Mines Police to provide full-proof security for registered operators and ward off illegal miners.

Minister of Solid Minerals, Mr Dele Alake disclosed this on Sunday in Abuja at a parley with Political Correspondents where he unfolded a seven-point agenda for the sector.

He said he has the mandate of President Bola Tinubu to ensure that the solid mineral sector accounts for at least 50 percent of the nation’s GDP.

The seven-point agenda includes the establishment of the Nigerian Solid Minerals Corporation; Joint Ventures with Mining Multinationals; Big Data on specific seven priority minerals and their deposits; 30-day grace for illegal miners to join artisanal cooperatives; Establishment of Mines Surveillance Task Force and Mine Police; Creation of six Mineral Processing Centres to focus on Value-Added products as well as review of all mining licences.

He said; “Consequently, the Ministry shall work towards the incorporation of the Nigerian Solid Minerals Corporation. This is a corporate body that will have subsidiaries doing business in the seven priority areas that require immediate intervention and focus: Gold, Coal, Limestone, Bitumen, Lead, Iron-ore and Baryte. Existing enterprises, such as the National Iron-Ore Mining Company, and ongoing arrangements, such as the Bitumen Concessioning Programme, will be reviewed to fit into this new system.

“The Ministry will embark on a comprehensive review of all mining licences in the country; a total overhaul, review of all mining licences in the country.

“The proposed corporation will seek and secure partnership investment agreements with big Multinational companies worldwide to leverage on the attractive investment-friendly regime operating in the country to secure massive Foreign Direct Investment for the mining sector. The positioning of the national corporation as a guarantor and protector of the partnership agreements is expected to assure partners of our seriousness and fidelity.

“Similarly, the Solid Minerals Corporation will provide robust support for Nigerian businessmen seeking funding abroad and help to authenticate their investment proposals to speed up the commitment of their partners to invest.

Solid minerals will contribute 50% to Nigeria’s GDP – Alake
“Domestically, the Solid Minerals Corporation will engage the Nigerian financial system, which has demonstrated palpable reluctance to support mineral prospecting and mining because of the long-term gestation of value generation by developing a Fund to facilitate investments in mining at interest rates that will be mutually agreed.

“The emergence of the Corporation in the business of mining will enable the Ministry to focus more on its core regulatory and promotional mandates of sanitizing the sector and developing ideas, processes, and institutions that facilitate the ease of doing business in the industry”.

He said Nigeria will be in dire straits in the next couple of years if the country does not deliberately diversify its mono product economy

According to him, a significant and interesting fact is that the solid minerals sector that was exploited by the colonial government for export contributed 4.5 percent to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product in the 1960s, and 5.6 percent by 1980 accounted for less than 2 percent of Nigeria’s GDP last year.

“To demonstrate the gravity, compare this performance to the records of less-endowed countries such as Senegal (20%), Mauritania (24%), and Namibia (50%).

“How did a country with industrial, energy, metallic, construction, and precious minerals, including gold, manganese, bitumen, lithium, iron ore, lead, zinc, limestone, uranium, columbite, barite, kaolin, gemstones, coal, topaz, copper in massive proportions fail to use these resources to liberate the citizens? At the last count, our estimated reserves include Gold (1 million ounces); Limestone (568 metric tonnes), Lead/Zinc, (Baryte (15 million metric tonnes), Bitumen (N1.1 billion barrels), Iron Ore (3 billion Metric Tonnes) and Coal, (N396 million). How did a sector with over 2 million operators, including over 633 small-scale companies and 251 500 registered miners, struggle to give the economy capital and human development?

“The reasons are no longer invisible. Studies and practical experience in the field have identified several factors, such as inefficient geo-data, weak implementation and enforcement, poor environmental, safety, and health policies, fragility and conflict, unregulated artisanal mining, low technical capacity, lack of access to financing, weak inter-governmental and inter-agency co-ordination and weak federal/state relations over mining land as the severe barriers to the development of the sector”, he stated.

Grace period for illegal miners

Alake also noted that government’s strategy for the development of the sector has been driven by the accommodation and mainstreaming of artisanal miners.

However, he said despite these generous and patriotic gestures, there still exists those who have defied all entreaties to join co-operatives and be formalized.

“They prefer to continue to operate as illegal miners. For the last time, let me declare that the Ministry is giving such persons 30 days grace to join a miners’ co-operative or find another vocation to do.

“On the expiration of the period, the full weight of the law will fall on anyone seen on a mining site without a determinable status. This message will be interpreted into Nigerian languages and broadcast on the radio to ensure no one is ignorant of this directive.

“From October, a rejuvenated security regime will become active in the solid minerals sector. This will include the Mine Police, sourced from the Nigeria Police and specially trained to detect illegal mining and apprehend offenders.

“The new Mines Surveillance Security Task Force will coordinate the Mines Police and pro-actively address high risk incidences of breach of Mining Laws. The Federal and State governments will also be encouraged to allocate the prosecution of cases against illegal miners to competent courts.

“A regular source of conflict and insecurity is the management of community relations by mining licensees. Whereas the Mining Act recognizes minerals under the ground as the exclusive property of the Federal Government, it also elaborates the need to engage communities whose hitherto peaceful and orderly environment may be disrupted by the investor about to activate a mining license. It is in the interest of peace and order not to arrogate reckless appropriation of communal resources in the guise of executing a license.

“Therefore, while the Ministry will continue to review the standard operating procedures for engaging communities within mining licences, communities are hereby encouraged to form committees which can address the concerns of their members on compensation before exploration, employment during exploration, quarrying, and mining and sustainable community socially responsible programmes during and after rehabilitation of mined sites. Officials of the Ministry have been mandated to prioritize this and facilitate the appropriate appropriation to maintain peace and harmony in the communities”, he stated.


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