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States, LGs should register artisanal miners — FG

.....Fayemicanvasses safer mining environment

From left, Director of Artisanal and Small Scale Mining, Mr Patrick Ojeka; Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Honourable Abubakar Bawa Bwari; Federal Mines Officer for Niger State, Mr Egbeyemi Oladipupo; Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi and the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Abass Mohammed, during the inspection of an illegal mining site in Muye Kafinkoro village, Paikoro Local Government Area of Niger State, on Tuesday.

THE Federal Government has restated the urgent need for states and local governments, to commence registration of artisanal miners operating in their domain, in the bid to ensure safer mining environment and improve revenue.

He also urged states to domesticate the Child Right Act, so as to discourage the use of children for illegal mining activities.

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, made the call on Tuesday, at Muye Kafinkoro Village, Paikoro Local Government Area, Niger State, where he had gone to visit a mining site, where illegal mining activities recently claimed four lives.

Fayemi, who was accompanied by the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Hon Abubakar Bawa Bwari, lamented the unfortunate incident, where a mango tree fell and killed four, out of about a hundred local miners looking for gold dust in an illegal site, located in the earth of the village.

He noted that, environmental degradation and unhealthy practices, which characterised illegal mining activities, would be curtailed if artisanal miners are properly registered into groups within their localities.

He urged states and local government authorities, to champion the registration process for local miners, adding that, it is only through this approach that their operations could be monitored, guided and supported, for optimal contribution to the economy and for a safer mining environment. “It will also help them to work and earn money legitimately, so that mining can become job creating and revenue earning work.” he added.

The Minister explained that many of the artisanal miners were ignorant people, who were out to eke a living, and in the process got involved, unconsciously, in some other nefarious activities.

The Minister noted that illegal mining activities remained a major threat to big miners. He said in organising and formalising activities of artisanal miners, the country would also be protecting the big miners and assuring them that Nigeria is a safe mining destination.

Fayemi said: “If the states and local government authorities can assist in registering them into groups, it will be easy for the federal mining offices in the states to relate with them, provide them with logistics and professional supports and give them licences that will enable them operate legitimately.

“The ministry officials will organise them into cooperatives, tutor them on safer mining processes, introduce them to equipment leasing, coordinate them to benefit from our financial support and then they can operate in a more professional manner, which will also translate into better sources of income for them and increased revenue for government.”