The Director-General, Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office (MCO), Engr. Obadiah Simon Nkom has called on youth to take advantage of the investment opportunities in the Nigeria mining sector.
He said youth-groups with low capital can invest in the country’s mining sector by embracing opportunities provided by the working relationship between the MCO and the Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (ASM) Department of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD).
Engr. Nkom, who made the call at an exclusive interview with our correspondent in Abuja, expressed concern that a larger population of energetic Nigerian youth may not have the capital needed to begin large scale mining operation, stating that there are opportunities for lucrative mining business when youths join cooperatives at the ASM Department of the Ministry.
“The ASM Debarment will organize them into cooperatives such that they will be able to receive needed support from MCO when making applications for mining licenses,” he said.
According to the Director General, the stipulation of the law for issuing mining licenses to corporate entities is different from the conditions for registered Cooperative groups.
Discussing how registered cooperative youth-groups can benefit from the MCO, Engr. Nkom said: ‘When a cooperative that is registered with the ASM Department of the Ministry approaches the MCO for a mining license, the MCO attends to them in a different way because the law becomes less cumbersome in dealing with them.’
‘Some of the youth can even find some solid minerals within their location. This way, they would be able to tap into the mineral wealth of the country.’
The Director General said: ‘The MCO usually liaise with the ASM Department of the MMSD to ensure that the set of youth are given licenses when they organize themselves into cooperatives.’
Further discussing the assistance which the MCO can give to registered cooperative groups, he said: ‘There are also companies that have mining licenses from which cooperatives can benefit,’ adding that in such a situation, MCO would encourage the companies to allow the cooperative to work in the cadastre areas which belongs to the companies while an agreement is reached between the cooperative and the company on how proceeds from the mining site would be shared.
A company can carve out an area covered by its license, and allow the youth to mine it, he said.
He said in such a situation, the owner of the license has the first right of refusal. This means that the cooperative would sell the mineral proceeds from the mining site to the owner of the license. Ie, it is only when the owner of the license refuses to buy the proceeds that the cooperative can sell to another buyer.
‘The youth of Nigeria are spread all over the country.
‘You would find very energetic young people from the most remote places to the urban areas.’ He said it is for this reason that youth are encouraged to take advantage of the job creation opportunities offered by the mining sector and agricultural sectors.
‘Nigeria has over 44 solid minerals deposited in commercial quantities across states of the federation.
‘The MCO and other agencies of government have their respective mandates even though we work in synergy with other agencies of government to achieve set goals.
‘There are aspects where we all need to work together to achieve common goals in the overall interest of developing the sector.
‘The MCO has a responsibility to key into any policy of the government.
“We have these minerals spread across the federation, and what we have done is to create an investor-friendly environment that encourages people to invest in mining or mineral trade.
‘In this regard, the MCO has its mandate. The mandate of the MCO is to issue mineral licenses to members of the public who want to invest in mining.
‘What we do promote the solid minerals in Nigeria is to ensure a hitch free process of mineral title application and we have done that through our recent migration to online mining cadastre system.
He said with the electronic Mining Cadastre system (eMC+), it has become very easy for local and foreign investors to relate with the Mining Cadastre Office.
‘It facilitates the process of getting a mining license needed for lawful mining activity in Nigeria,’ he added.
He said the Mining Cadastre Office ensures great ease of doing business by ensuring that the process of mineral title application is without difficulty and delay.