The Minister of Mines and Steel Development Mrs. Diezani Alloson-Maduekwe said that speculators and unqualified companies have been holding mining titles to the detriment of the Nigerian Mining sector which she said is on the verge of a renaissance.
She said that the recently revoked 832 mining titles were done to pave way for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), and other qualified Nigeria firms to have a chance of participating in the sector.
â€œOn 26th November, 2007 the Ministry suspended the receipt and processing of new Mining Titles, due to the realization that the provisions of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act of 2007 had not been met by holders of titles, whose titles were recently issued under the 2007 Act and that the Mining Cadastre Office was not legally createdâ€, she explained.
â€œHoweverâ€, she continued, â€œon the 23rd April, 2008, the Ministry directed the Mining Cadastre Office to continue to receive and record applications, but to suspend all processing of same
â€œThe Ministry then appointed a Revalidation Committee, under the Chairmanship of the Permanent Secretary, to assess all titles issued under the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007â€, she said.
â€œThis Committee was to ensure complete compliance with the requirements of the law, especially those pertaining to the following:
?Â Â Â Commitment to minimum work obligations
?Â Â Â Notice to Land Owner and occupier
?Â Â Â Consent from land owner and occupier
?Â Â Â Specifying minerals to be explored or exploited
?Â Â Â Financial capability
?Â Â Â Technical Ability
?Â Â Â Survey of area (for leases)
The Revalidation committee, commenced work in March, 2009, completed its assignment in May, 2009, she said
â€œUnfortunately, the Revalidation Committee found that almost all the companies vetted failed to meet with the requirements of the Actâ€, she said.
â€œThe Ministry, therefore, placed a series of advertisements in the print and electronic media in May and June, 2009, requesting title holders to re-submit their documents for assessmentâ€
Madueke said that at the end of the initial time associated with the submission of documents, the Ministry received a high volume of requests from companies asking for an extension of time.
â€œIn response to these requests, the closing time was extended by a further 2 weeksâ€, she said.
She said thatÂ the Revalidation Committee evaluated a total of 2,330 mineral titles, out of which, 1,569 were titles that had already been issued, whilst 761 had been processed but had not been issued before the suspension of the processing of titles took place.
â€œAt the close of the time for the submission of documentsâ€, she said,Â â€œ737 operators responded, which represented approximately 47% ofÂ title holders
According to her, 489 Titles were successfully revalidated; 29 provisionally revalidated (subject to submission of dated consent letters).
The Minister said that 49 Titles which were under assignment, will be re-assigned and subjected to further processing, She said that 832 Titles were unsuccessful and were therefore not revalidated
â€œThe above information clearly indicates that many titles were held by unqualified companies and speculative individualsâ€, she said.
â€œThe process has therefore, hopefully, cleaned the sector of speculators and allowed only genuine investors with the necessary competence to operateâ€, she added.