By Emmanuella Anokam
The Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has urged the Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office (MCO) to make the process of acquiring mining license open and seamless to ACCI members.
The chamber said that making the licensing process seamless for potential miners in the country would spur economic activities in the sector.
Dr Johnson Anene, the Vice President, Mines, ACCI, made the call in Abuja in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of ongoing 16th Abuja International Trade Fair.
NAN reports that the fair, holding at Abuja Trade and Convention Centre organised by ACCI has its theme as “Exploring Opportunities of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)”.
Anene decried the cumbersome nature of obtaining mining license, adding that though the process of obtaining license had not been easy but the coming on board of the new MCO D-G was a relieve.
“The process of getting license for miners is cumbersome but the advent of online processing of application has made it easier for people to really apply.
“If the office is able to liberalise licensing of mining operations it will reduce illegal mining because they resort to illegal mining activities out of frustration.
“But if they know that they can apply and genuinely get a license if qualified, the illegal mining will stop,’’ he said.
He urged the mining cadastre office to also engage in more enlightenment or awareness campaign so that people would be informed about the danger of involving themselves in illegal mining.
According to him, the office needs to also make the process and conditions attached to the license very open and seamless to enable them know the requirement of acquiring the license.
He advised that licenses being hoarded or had been of no use or given to inactive miners should be withdrawn from the miners, while it should focus on giving licenses to active people for economic growth.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Chambers of Mining, during the Special Day of the Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office at the trade fair had lauded reforms instituted by the office, which largely met the expectations of mining stakeholders.
The Chambers’ President, Alhaji Sheu Sani expressed satisfaction over the ongoing reform and appreciated the Federal Government’s response to stakeholders’ decades of advocacy.
Sani, who was also a former President of Association of Nigerian Miners, disclosed that most changes miners advocated for such as the creation of zonal offices had been implemented.
According to him, the operationalisation of the zonal offices has eased the burden of miners across the nation.
He noted that the digitisation of mining licensing process was another laudable step which excited the stakeholders.
“The Cadastre has grown to be a reliable partner for miners. The agency has shown it recognises her new mandate in the race of national shift to non-oil sector,” he said.
The Director-General of MCO, Mr Obadiah Nkom said the office had expanded the ongoing reform to ease access to seamless mining operations.
Nkom said the reforms and innovations on various fronts were meant to enhance transparency, accessibility and standardisation of the licensing process.
“Aside all previous landmarks initiative, a current project we are implementing is the thematic mapping of areas restricted from mining activities for integration into the Nigerian Mining Cadastre digital database,’’ he said.
He explained that this initiative would enable the licensing authority to know restricted areas on which mining license should not be issued, adding that the thematic mapping would serve both the authority and the investing public.
He noted that the MCO was also expanding the digitalisation project, citing “the establishment of a standard a system of e-recording and e-archiving of licensing records in line with new system upgrade.”
“We are creating a standard system of e-filling of our records. This is to ensure much needed digitisation of operations, which will ease the burden for all stakeholders and facilitate foreign direct investment into the world mineral sector in the country.”
He said that there was a procurement of geo-referencing and geo-rectification of topographic maps of Nigeria at the scale of 1:50,000 for integration in the Nigerian mining database.
Nkom, however, noted that the office had adopted and implemented strategies to promote Ease of Doing Business (EoDB). (NAN)