The Federal Government is set to revoke at least 1,500 mining licences and leases on account of dormancy.
This indication emerged on Tuesday just as the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development said it would soon publish the list of the affected mining sites and their owners.
The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, had at his maiden press briefing in December 2015 given owners of dormant licences up until March 1, 2016 to use the licences or lose them.
Our correspondent learnt that despite the threat, many licensees were still in default.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the ministry said it had concluded arrangements to publish the list of owners of the dormant mining licences.
Although the number of defaulters was not given in the statement, it was reliably gathered from an official in the ministry that a list of about 1,500 dormant mining licences and leases had been compiled for revocation.
According to the statement, Fayemi said a situation where four of every five mining licences issued in the country remained unused was no longer acceptable.
The minister spoke in Minna, the Niger State capital, during a one-day working visit to mining sites in the state on Monday.
He said the administration would no longer accept operators who failed to use their licences for the purpose they were issued, adding that such licences would be revoked and given to genuine mining investors who were ready to make use of them.
Fayemi said that most of the land areas that were allocated as mining sites to miners had been acquired illegally.
He added that it was important to sanitise and reorganise the sector in order to realise the sector’s full potential as a major revenue earner.
Addressing informal and artisanal miners in Kurukpa, in Chachangi Local Government Area of the state, Fayemi said the ministry would begin the formalisation of illegal miners into a structure to enable them to earn their livelihood in a safe environment and according to the world standard.
He said the ministry was willing to assist them to form cooperative societies and secure mining licences as groups or individuals.
Fayemi said, “We are not here to criminalise you but to let you know that illegal mining is dangerous to health and the environment. We are ready to give you all necessary support to ensure that you carry out your mining activities in the proper manner.
“You can obtain your licence either as an individual or as a cooperative. The ministry officials will help you and ensure you get your licences to operate within the confines of laid down laws.”
The minister promised that the Federal Government would devise means of assisting them with necessary equipment and financial support.
He added, “After this, we shall clamp down on those doing illegal mining. We are not going to allow illegal mining to continue. We will bring it to an end.”
The minister said that gold, being mined on the site and several other sites in the country, was not on the record of the Federal Inland Revenue Services.