OVER 1,300 mining licences have been revoked for failure to remit permit fees for mining blocks and defaulting on conditions for their operations in the country, the Minister for Minerals, Mr Dotto Biteko, told ‘Daily News’ on Thurday. The minister had on February 18, this year, directed the Mining Commission to serve a 30-day ultimatum to mining licence holders to pay permit fees amounting to 116.67bn/- owed to the government for mining blocks awarded to them.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with this newspaper, Minister Biteko plained that the government has so far revoked over 1,300 licences for failing to pay the requisite permit fees. Some of the miners had their licences withdrawn for failing to develop their mining blocks as per conditions of their contract with the government. In February this year, Mr Biteko instructed the Mining Commission to serve a 30-day ultimatum to mining companies which own 18,341 mining licences to pay the government the arrears or risk losing their licences. The minister later told this paper mid-this year that a good number of the companies with mining licences had responded positively and paid the permit fees. “Some of the licence holders have requested for an extension of the deadline to make payments. As of March this year, we had revoked licences of 11 companies which failed to pay for their permit fees,” he stated during a past interview. Mr Biteko had in February instructed the Mining Commission under its Chairman, Prof Idrisa Kikula, to revoke permits for mining licence holders who had not paid their fees. According to the minister, the Mining Commission had issued 30,973 mining licences, out of which 18,341 had defaulted permit fees amounting to 116.67bn/-. A verification conducted by the Ministry of Minerals in February, according to Mr Biteko, found out that the defaulters had already been served with defaulting notices but the permits had not been revoked as prescribed by the law.

Giving a breakdown on the amount of money that the government claims from each licence category (with the amount in brackets), the minister mentioned prospecting licences (61.67bn/-), special mining licences (6.41bn/-), mining licences (28.28bn) and primary mining licences (19.51bn/-). According to the minister, the Mining Commission had served notices to 110 prospecting licence holders and 52 mining licence holders which had defaulted on their terms.

He directed the commission to ensure that even the government entities that had not paid the fees to face similar actions. “Even the National Development Corporation (NDC) should have its licence annulled because I am aware that they have an outstanding fee of 375,000 US dollars with its partners in Liganga and Mchuchuma…they should be dealt with according to the law regardless of their status,” said Mr Biteko. The commission was also directed to call off all active prospecting licences that have no pending payment claims, but within three months since receipt of the certificate, nothing had been done in the allocated areas. The commission was further ordered to come up with a proposal of licence limits for companies engaged in prospecting for minerals since some of them acquire mining blocks and fail to develop them.

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