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Monday, February 26, 2024

FG to Revoke 15 Coal Mining Licences

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THE Federal Government, on Thursday, expressed dissatisfaction that while the nation is rich in coal deposits, some companies are exporting the mineral because those who were given licences to mine have failed to do so years after winning the licences.

Government has now threatened to revoke such licences unless the beneficiaries begin to utilise them.

Ohaneze GEJ

Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Musa Sada, disclosed this while briefing State House Correspondents after the meeting of National Council on Privatisation (NCP), presided over by Vice President Namadi Sambo, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He revealed that the Vice President gave the directive to revoke the licences if the owners fail to start mining for reallocation to investors who are ready to start business and support the administration’s transformation agenda, which, he noted, has power sector as a key components.

Sada said: “For obvious reasons, we need this mineral  resource to produce power to leverage on what we have to get what we want.

“We have already started the process to release from any encumbrance those titles that are being held by people. We are not willing to allow it to remain on speculative basis. People that have these titles must have to operate them or lose them in line with the provision of the Minerals Mining Act.”

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He added: “Vice President Namadi Sambo has given instruction that we must do all that needs to be done to make sure that these coal blocks go to people that need them and are ready to operate them and we are taking this instruction seriously.”

The Minister explained that the licences in question include the coal blocks, formerly owned by the government coal corporation, before being sold to the companies who were expected to have been in full operation by now.

“So, we are looking at the greenness they signed with the BPE, we are looking at the Mineral Act and we are putting the two together. We have already started interfacing with them and we are making progress on that,” he said.

The Minister also said that Sambo had also given definite deadline for the conclusion of negotiation on the Ajaokuta Steel Company to bring all agitation to closure, saying that an amicable resolution was at the verge of being achieved, to be followed by signing of agreements with serious investors.

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According to him, “we looked at the potentials around it and presently government is on the verge of signing agreements with some serious steel producing companies who are interested in taking it forward.

“Part of the discussion is that when we finally come to privatise Ajaokuta. We privatise a company that is alive; make sure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated and that the facility being privatised really works.”

The Minister, who gave the briefing in company of the Minister of Power, Professor Chinedu Nebo and Director-General of the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE), Benjamin Dikki, said government would be careful in the selection of investors to ensue that only competent ones were selected in order to avoid the mistakes of the past.

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