Nigeria to Start Granting New Mining Licenses

Source:

"Up until now the sector was actually very rife with speculative interest. . ."

Nigeria will soon start granting a backlog of new mining licenses and will complete a review of existing licenses aimed at weeding out speculators by the end of October, officials said on Monday.

Boosting confidence in mining titles is a key plank of Nigeria's campaign to revive its mining industry, which had taken a back seat to its oil industry.

Once the world's sixth largest tin exporter and a colonial gold producer, Nigeria is focusing on developing its mineral wealth with special focus on gold, iron ore and coal.

"I should think that all issues involved with the revalidation exercise should be completed by the end of October," Mines Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke told a presentation at the London Stock Exchange.

Some 54% of the existing 2,303 holders of mining and exploration licenses did not respond to a demand to submit documents to confirm they were qualified to hold the licenses, Sheik Goni, director general of the Mining Cadastre Office, told the conference.

The review will open up new areas for qualified mining companies once titles are cancelled for those who did not submit documents showing, for example, that they have the technical and financial ability to develop mines, the minister said.

"Up until now the sector was actually very rife with speculative interest—people holding licenses and titles without actual intent to develop them," said Alison-Madueke, who formerly worked for Royal Dutch Shell and became mining minister last December.

"I think that this is actually very good news for all those who are really true operators and not just speculative prospectors in the area. That means that serious operators have more areas and more blocks open to them."

A backlog of about 5,000 applications for new licenses will be processed starting in a matter of days now that legal issues have been resolved, Goni said.

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