Exporters of solid minerals are owing the Federal Government N17.1 billion royalties for minerals exported.
Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite made this known in Abuja yesterday at the stakeholders’ consultative forum on the draft mineral export guidelines procedure and documentation requirements.
Adegbite said from January 2013 to June 2017 “unpaid royalties amounted to N17,120,784,902, which are still outstanding to the Federation Government”.
During the same period, a total of 2,670 mineral exports were made from Nigeria. However, the Federal Government issued only 56 Mineral Export Permits for which some royalties were paid. This indicates that the 2,614 mineral exports left the country without permit.
The absence of a handbook for standardised solid minerals export, he said, had led to “a situation where prices in the local mineral market are almost at par with international price benchmarks; this impedes ease of business for genuine exporters”.
This development, he lamented, also makes “attaining reasonable margins impossible. Local prices are high because most of the exports are carried out for money laundering purposes, where profit margins are not the necessary incentives”.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development noted that “the mineral sector (liquid or solid) is controlled by international price indices that guide trading. It is also guided by stringent laws that warrant the determination of the source of the mineral before it is traded internationally. All in a bid to stem money laundering, trafficking, child labour and conflict mineral flooding the international market. These issues we have appropriately addressed in the guidelines”.
To address this criminal enterprise, the minister said “the introduction of electronic processing by the Pre-Shipment Inspection Agent (PIA) remains the bedrock of the system. It will ensure transparency in the determination of quality, quantity and price.
“It will also facilitate the speedy grant of Mineral Export Permits and reduce contact of the miner with the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development to only at source”.
The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development he said has “sent to the ministry of finance the criteria for the selection of a PIA; which include the following: they must have presence in at least 250 locations globally; they must provide weighing bridges at the seaport and land boarders; they must provide laboratory services in Nigeria for both X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and detailed Atomic Absorption (AAS) assays; they must provide metal scanners and XRF assay facilities at the airports and land borders and must have capacity to deploy Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) services for track and trace of all inspected mineral consignments”.
The proposed mineral export guidelines procedure and documentation will reduce the usual time for an export cycle from an uncertain current timeframe to 26 working days.
“Of these, the processing of exit point documentation and shipment will take five andthree working days respectively”.
In her address, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Mrs. Zainab Ahmed said the development and implementation of effective guidelines to guide procedures and documentation of export trade in the mineral sector will further enhance the environment for mining business, address illegal mining operations, reduce environmental devastation, minimize revenue leakages and promote foreign direct investments.
Mrs Ahmed stated that her preliminary review of the draft Mineral Exports Guidelines, Procedures and Documentation Requirement will “minimize revenue leakages and remove undue bottlenecks experienced in the process of transactions by both exporters of minerals and Government Regulatory Agencies”.
– The Nation