FG revokes 924 defaulting, dormant mining licences

In furtherance of efforts to sanitise the mining sector, the federal government has revoked 924 dormant licenses spanning exploration, mining, small-scale mining, and quarrying licenses.

Making the announcement on Wednesday at a press conference, the Minister of Solid Minerals development, Dr Dele Alake, declared that in line with constitutional provisions, adequate notice was given to all concerned parties through the official Gazette of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, No. 227, which was published on December 27, 2023.

“The notice gave all concerned parties 30 days to regularise their status, including clarifications on what caused the license to be dormant. Thus, although a total of 963 licensees were published and notified of the threat of revocation, no fewer that 39 either moved to site immediately or convinced the authorities of the challenges hindering their operations,” the minister said. 

In view of the foregoing, Dr Alake affirmed the revocation of 924 dormant licenses, which include 528 exploration licenses; 20 mining leases; 101 quarry licenses, and 273 Small Scale Mining Licenses (SSML).

Speaking further, Alake stated that the action followed due process and fair consideration whilst it underscores the commitment of the federal government to implement the standard policy of ‘Use it or Lose it’ as enshrined in mining guidelines.

According to him, “Investors across the globe are now free to apply for any of the affected Cadastral Units on the basis of ‘first come, first served’. It is our belief that this decision will sanitise the licensing system by penalising those who have commercialised the opportunities offered by the sector into a bazaar.” 

Noting that the revocation is not meant to be punitive, he announced an opportunity for affected licencees to make restitution, imposing fines for different categories of revoked licenses, stressing that this also applies to the 1,633 titles revoked last year for default in payment of annual service fees. 

“For revoked Mining Licenses, a fine of N10m applies;  N7.5m for Small Scale Mining License (SSML) while N5m for Exploration License (EL). They will be required to make the payments within 30 days to qualify for consideration,” Alake emphasised.

He warned that henceforth, the federal government would not tolerate the nefarious activities of licence racketeering or those that obtain licences for speculation in order to offer them to the highest bidder. 

“A good lesson from this exercise is for investors to do their homework and be ready to flag off their projects as soon as they obtain licences. Nigeria is open for business, and we shall encourage smart, serious, and adventurous investors to set up and provide jobs to our teeming youths,” Alake added.