The Federal Government of Nigeria (“FGN”) has announced a proposed decentralisation of the Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office (“MCO”) for ease of operations. This was disclosed by the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Bwari Abubakar, during the recently held Nigeria Mining Business Investment Summit, jointly organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Association of Metals Exporters of Nigeria.
The MCO was established pursuant to the provisions of section 5(1) of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act 2007 and is responsible for the management and administration of mineral titles in the Nigerian mining industry.
Currently, the MCO is situated in Abuja where all applications with respect to mineral titles are processed. It is now the intention of the FGN to decentralise its operations in order to, among other things, cut down the time for processing licences from 45 to 15 days. As part of the effort to achieve this, the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development automated the MCO for online applications. New Mineral Export Guidelines are also stated to be in the works to ensure accurate data on mineral exports and to reduce the processing of mineral export permits from 2 weeks to 2 days.
The planned decentralisation of the MCO is a welcome development which will have positive impact on the promotion of investment within the Nigerian mining sector. There is an urgent need to revamp the Nigerian mining sector into becoming the viable sector it once was and increase its contribution to the Nigerian Gross Domestic Product. The planned decentralisation of the MCO is expected to be an enabler in this regard.
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