FG issues 7,000 mining licences in eight years, revokes 2,500

The Federal Government issued more than 7,000 licences in the last eight years out of which only 4,500 subsist, the Nigerian Mining Cadastre Office has said.

The outgoing Director-General of NMCO, Mr Mohammed Amate, disclosed this at an interview with journalists during an event to handover to a newly appointed Director-General in Abuja on Friday.

Amate also advised the Federal Government to pay attention to the development of minerals that would occupy the attention of the global economy in the nearest future as the world transits from fossil to electric vehicles.

He said, “Before the coming of the Mining Cadastre Office, it used to take one or two years to get one licence. Today, we can issue a licence within 30 to 45 days.

“From inception till date, we have issued well over 7,000 licences. But today, what we have on our database is 4,500 licences because some were cancelled; some expired and some are very active.

“In mining, you look at what the minerals for the future are. The minerals for the future now are battery-related minerals such as cobalt, lithium, lead and the rest. The reason is simple: we are moving towards electric cars and we must have efficient batteries to run them. So, these are the minerals for the future.

“Again, Nigeria was known for tin. Today, tin is now making an inroad. So, one of the minerals that are really on top of most investors’ agenda now is tin. These are the minerals for the future.”

Amate said that the nation needed to work hard in order to attract back foreign miners that left the country sometime around the 1970s.

Also speaking to journalists, the newly-appointed Director-General of NMCO, Mr Obadiah Nkom, said that the government was ready to implement a new regime of ‘use it or lose it’ in order to weed out speculators from the Nigerian mining landscape.

He ruled out the possibility of renewing licences that had already been revoked.

Nkom said, “One of the key things that we intend to do is to be able to restore investors’ confidence in order to attract more investment into the sector and make sure that speculators are brought to nil.

“We are ready to implement ‘use it or lose it’; the laws are quite clear. They are spelt out. You either develop it or notice is given to you to develop it. They are all aware. The machinery has always been there. The law is okay; it is the implementation that is the biggest problem.

“There is no way we will ever go back to our vomit. The law has already said it clearly – a revoked licence is revoked. Have you ever seen a dead man resuscitated? If your licence is dead, it is dead. We can give birth to a new licence but a dead one is dead. There is no way in the law it is allowed.”

The new NMCO boss said that revoked licences would be reissued to operators who were ready to use them.
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