31 March 2016, Lagos – The Federal Government has raised more than N500m as licensees and leaseholders in the solid minerals sector struggle to beat Thursday’s deadline for them to activate their operations or lose their licences.
Investigation by our correspondent on Wednesday showed that the Mining Cadastral Office handling the regularisation of the licences was besieged by the beneficiaries of leases and licences due to the revocation threat.
As a result, it was learnt that more than N500m had been paid into the government coffers as the beneficiaries had been going to the banks to pay necessary fees that had accrued from holding dormant approvals granted by the Federal Government.
Further investigation also showed that more than 500 companies might not be able to beat the deadline and would have to face the wrath of the government for failing to regularise their licences.
The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, had at his maiden press briefing in December 2015, given owners of dormant licences up till March 1 to use or lose them.
At the expiration of the deadline, the ministry published the names of the defaulting companies in national newspapers and gave them a grace period of 20 working days to regularise the licences or they would be revoked.
Solid minerals is one of the main sectors that the Federal Government has pencilled down for more activities as it preaches diversification of the economy following the dwindling fortunes of oil and gas as a result of falling prices in the international market.
Sources at the ministry confirmed to our correspondent that the failure of the licensees and leaseholders to utilise their approvals was denying the country about 8,000 jobs that could have been created if the licences had been put into use.
Another concern of the government is that the acquisition of dormant licences may have denied more serious operators the opportunity of space, while the government continues to lose taxes and revenues that would have been paid had the licences and leases been put into use.
Fayemi had at a recent forum said a situation where four out of every five mining licences issued by the Federal Government remained unused was no longer acceptable.