The Federal Government (FG) has expressed worries over the recent drop witnessed in the number of applications for mining licences in the country.
Minister, Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, disclosed during a working visit to the Nigerian Mining Cadastre Office, an agency under the ministry, that the applications for mining licence had declined in 2019.
He said, “The application has dropped this year, you need to ask yourself why. I looked at the graph you gave me of applications over the years and the application for this year by July seems to have dropped from what you had in the past.
“By July ending this year you had 1,025 applications, and in 2016 the total application received was 2,800.
“Are we having lower interest in mining now that government is placing a lot of emphasis in the sector? This administration wants to use mining to diversify the economy and generate employment for our people.
“So why is application dropping? This is something we need to check. We need to look at that.
“At the end of this year, you may not even be able to have what you had last year, from what you have here now.”
The minister wondered why the applications dropped at a time the government was banking on the mining sector to actualise its economic diversification agenda.
The minister urged the agency, which has the mandate to administer and manage mineral titles, to create more awareness about mining in order to improve the number of applications.
Adegbite, in the same vein, urged the state governments to play an active role in the mining sector by floating companies or joint ventures.
On the dispute between the Federal Government and the states over mining rights, he said, “The Federal Government is best positioned to realise revenue from mining and if the states are patient, they will get their due from derivation.
“And even going beyond that, states are now encouraged to form special purpose vehicles so that they can participate in mining.
“So states can form a company, whether fully owned or a joint venture with an existing company, to participate as active participants and not just waiting for derivation.
“Most states take it for granted when it comes to sharing oil money but when you want to mine gold in their domain they say no.”
Director-General of the Nigerian Mining Cadastre Office, Engr. Simon Nkom said the agency was determined to ensure transparency in all its activities.
Nkom added that the agency had revoked about 1,566 inactive mining licences in line with its ‘use it or lose it’ approach.
He said, “Use it or lose it helps to eliminate speculators. When we give you the licence you either use it or lose it. It is on that basis that we have been able to make the system attractive enough for investors so as to generate more revenue.”