The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, has expressed concern over the drop in applications for mining licence by investors in the country.
The minister spoke during a visit to the Nigerian Mining Cadastral Office (MCO) in Abuja.
Adegbite said the development was not encouraging, especially as the Federal Government was poised to diversify the country`s economy.
The minister was received by Mr Obadiah Nkom, Director-General Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office and other management staff.
He noted that applications for mining licence in July were just about 1,500 as against almost 3,000 recorded in 2016.
Adegbite wondered if the drop in applications for mining licence meant lack of interest by would be investors in the sector.
According to him, this is regrettable, especially now that the Federal Government is poised to use mining to diversify the economy and create employment.
“The applications for mining licence from July this year seem to have dropped from what you used to have in the past.
“There is need for increased level of awareness by all stakeholders; create more awareness; let there be more applications from people who want to go into mining.
“Let the Mining Cadastral Office build the right atmosphere to attract people into mining, we should have more applications instead of them dropping.
“Have you not been telling people about mining, so why are applications for licences dropping?
” We need to look at that, create more awareness on mining and let there be more applications,“ he said.
On inadequate funding of MCO, the minister said it was human nature to always ask for more.
Adegbite said that government agencies should learn to be prudent and to make do with available resources.
He also emphasised the need for synergy among agencies in the ministry to ensure a seamless operation and effective service delivery.
Adegbite further said that there was need to put in place strategies to ensure a seamless operation in the issuance of mining licences to would be investors.
The minister, however, commended the director general, saying he should not relent on his responsibilities.
Earlier, Obadiah, said some people collected mining licences without using them, an issue he said his office was trying to address by invoking the provisions of the Mining Act.
“One of the most important target areas of the office is to invoke the provision of the Mining Act to address the issue.
“Recently, we revoked about 1,566 mineral titles without having to infringe on the provisions of the act,” he said.
He added that this would be a continuous process as the agency had adopted the policy of “use it or lose it“ bearing in mind the legal implications.
The agency, he added, was working to ensure that international best practices were adhered to in the mining sector to attract more foreign direct investment into the country.
Obadiah also said the agency had put in place strategies to shore up the revenue generation base of the mining sector and to improve and restore confidence of investors in government.
“It is because of those strategies that we have put in place, that as at today, we have generated about N2 billion; before now, we have been generating about N1.7 billion.
“Now we are moving, and this is a milestone that had never been achieved since the inception of the Mining Cadastral Office.
” We will make sure we improve on our revenue generation,“ he said.
He added that revenue generation was a big component of the mining sector that must be taken seriously, saying that the agency would continue to ensure that sanity was put in place in the sector.