FG Cracks Down On Illegal Mining, Revokes 924 Mineral Licenses

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The Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr. Oladele Alake.
The Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr. Oladele Alake.

The Federal Government of Nigeria has taken decisive action against illegal mining activities, with Minister for Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Oladele Alake announcing the revocation of 924 additional mineral licenses.

This move comes in response to concerns over mineral license racketeering and dormancy, which have plagued the industry and tarnished Nigeria’s reputation.

At a media briefing in Abuja, Alake revealed that the revoked licenses comprised 528 exploration licenses, 20 mining leases, 101 quarry licenses and 273 small-scale mining licenses. Emphasising the government’s resolve to address these issues, he outlined a new policy requiring restitution within 30 days to be reinstated, with fines imposed accordingly: N7.5 million for small-scale mining licenses, N5 million for exploration licenses and N10 million for mining licenses payable to the Federal Government.

Alake condemned those involved in license racketeering, highlighting their detrimental impact on the industry and the economy. He lamented the practice of speculating and selling licenses to the highest bidder, which not only distorts the market but also dissuades genuine investors and undermines Nigeria’s credibility.

The minister reiterated warnings issued in November of the previous year when 1,663 licenses were revoked due to failure to pay statutory charges. He emphasised the negative consequences of license racketeering, including hindrance to legitimate investors, erosion of foreign direct investment and distortion of market dynamics.

By revoking dormant licenses, the government aims to restore integrity to the licensing system and create a level playing field for investors. Alake underscored the importance of adhering to due process and fair consideration, noting that adequate notice was given to affected parties through official gazettes.

Out of the 963 licenses notified of potential revocation, only 39 either resumed operations or provided valid justifications for their dormancy. Consequently, 924 licenses were revoked, signalling a clear message that the government is committed to enforcing the “Use it or Lose it” policy and penalising those who exploit loopholes in the system.

Investors are now encouraged to apply for the affected cadastral units on a “First Come, First Served” basis, signalling a shift towards transparency and accountability in the licensing process. Alake stressed the importance of prompt project commencement upon obtaining licenses, affirming Nigeria’s commitment to attracting serious and responsible investors.

The Federal Government’s action against illegal mining and license racketeering underscores its commitment to promoting transparency, accountability and sustainable development in the mining sector. By revoking dormant licenses and imposing fines, the government aims to deter illicit practices and create a conducive environment for legitimate investment. Nigeria remains open for business, welcoming investors who are willing to contribute to the country’s economic growth and empower its youth.

Omowumi Semudara
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