By Gabriel Ewepu
Miners Association of Nigeria, MAN, has rejected the recent increment in cadastral charges effected by the Mining Cadastral Office, MCO, and called for downward review. This was stated by the National President, MAN, Sani Shehu, in Abuja, at a media briefing on mining development in Nigeria.
Sani said the association demanded the downward review due to various challenges faced by miners in the sector, and to ensure that the diversification of the economy will be successful. He said: “The Mining Cadastral Office, MCO, is also a product of the mining reform project in the sector. It is set up to administer mining titles in accordance with the international best practice and guided by first – come, first- serve principle.
“Perhaps MCO is the most critical agency of government in terms of lawful mining practice and being the closest agency to the operator. It is in this regard that, we first of all, appeal to the ministry to decentralize the agency as provided for, in the Minerals and Mining Act, 2000
“The MCO has an outstanding culture of occasional consultation and information dissemination with the Miners Association of Nigeria, MAN, especially on issues that border on policy review. Hence the Association was consulted before the determination of minimum working capital. We commend the MCO for limiting the issuance of Small Scale Mining Lease to Indigenous operators. This is what is obtained in Ghana, Mali, Central Africa, Mongolia and many emerging mining jurisdictions.”
The enforcement of use it or lost it provision is also commendable as it creates chance for serious investors to come over. “However the recent review of all categories of cadastral charges is of grave concern to the Association. Although the MCO has the mandate to make such review, it should reflect on the mining situation in the country. Artisanal and Small scale miners are the dominant players in the mining industry at the moment; they need to be supported to get properly formalized. This astronomical increase in cadastral charges cannot help in this regard.
The miners of industrial minerals mine but difficult to sell. Quarry operators can hardly breakeven as they cannot compete with foreigners who source for loan facility at two percent for 20 years. Miners of metal do not get the best of price, as they sell it without processing due to lack of capital to acquire processing machineries.
“Given the above scenario, it is relevant to appeal to the MCO to kindly review their charges downward to the former position in order to stabilise the mining industry in Nigeria. We appeal that MCO should revert to the old cadastre charges in the interest of the development of the sector.”
According to him the association does not support the agitation for states to control mineral resources in Nigeria but encourage them to participate in the business and play actively in the function of Mineral and Environmental Management Committee, MERENCO, in their respective states.
Meanwhile, the Mining Cadastral Office said the upward review was done to weed out miners who collect mining licences and go to sleep. This was stated by the Director General, MCO, Engr. Mohammed Amate, saying most companies were not productive with the licences granted to them, and do not give room for serious miners to come into the sector.
“Looking at what is happening in the sub-region, we want those investors who are serious to come into the sector for, and to develop the sector. And it is to restore investors’ confidence in the sector. We cannot continue with the old regime”, he said.