understanding the legal and regulatory considerations for mining minerals in Nigeria
Understanding the Legal and Regulatory Considerations for mining Solid Minerals in Nigeria
  1. Introduction

Nigeria is regarded as a country endowed with abundant natural mineral resources such as iron, lead-zinc, tin, tungsten, tantalum, gold, manganese, and nickel. Nigeria’s mineral resources also include valuable industrial minerals and rocks such as barite, halite, talc, kaolin, gemstones, limestone, marble, and granite. Over time, the solid mineral sector in Nigeria has remained largely undeveloped. However, in recent times, the government has committed to developing the country’s mining sector.  This article considers comprehensively, key legal and regulatory considerations for the mining of solid minerals in Nigeria.

  1. The laws and regulations applicable to the Mining of Minerals in Nigeria

In Nigeria, there are a number of laws applicable to the mining sector such as the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) (the Constitution), Land Use Act, Cap L5, Laws of the Federation 2004 (the Land Use Act); Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007 (the Mining Act); Nigerian Minerals and Mining Regulations 2011 (the Mining Regulations) and the Guidelines on Mineral Titles Application, January 2014 (the Guidelines). Secondary legislations regulating the mining industry are the Environmental Impact Assessment Act; Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act; Nigerian Investment Promotion Act; and the Nigerian (Export Incentives and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act. Below is a summary of the major legislations affecting the mining sector.

The Constitution.

The Constitution is Nigeria’s overarching law and the basis upon which law and government is organised in the country. The Constitution vests the entire property in and control of all minerals, mineral oils, and natural resources under or upon any land in Nigeria in the Government of the Federation.

The Mining Act.

The Mining Act is Nigeria’s major legislation governing the mining sector. It regulates all aspects of the exploration and exploitation of solid minerals in Nigeria. The Mining Act mirrors the provision of the Constitution providing further that minerals are vested in the Federation on behalf of the people of Nigeria. The Mining Act also provides that all lands in which minerals have been found in commercial quantities shall be acquired by the Federal Government in accordance with the Land Use Act.

The Mining Act provides that the property in the mineral resources shall pass from the Federal Government to the person who has lawfully won them, upon their recovery in accordance with the Act.

The Mining Regulations.

The Mining Regulations are the subsidiary legislation issued under the Mining Act. The Regulations contain detailed provisions for the administration of mineral titles by the Mining Cadastre Office, including the procedure, duration and documentation required for the application of a small-scale mining lease and for the application for a permit to export minerals for commercial purposes. The Mining Act and the Mining Regulations are administered by the Ministry of Mines and Steel and the Mining Cadastre Office.

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