THE Federal Government, on Friday, commenced moves aimed at making it an offence for anyone to take unprocessed minerals out of Nigeria.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi disclosed this at a Town Hall meeting with Stakeholders in the mining Sector in Lagos State.
In a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Olayinka Oyebode, a copy of which was made available to the Nigerian Tribune in Abuja, the minister said the stakeholders meeting was attended by representatives of local and international mining outfits, officials of federal, states and local governments, financial institutions, manufacturing companies, professional bodies, community organisations, security agencies and the civil society.
Dr Fayemi, who noted that government was aware of activities of some foreign nationals who take out of the country unprocessed minerals though illegal routes, thereby, denied the country of revenue accrued to it through its vast mineral endowment.
The minister agreed with stakeholders at the meeting that the activities of some foreigners who take out unprocessed minerals had robbed the youth of the country of massive job opportunities in the sector.
He said the ministry was working with the Customs services and other relevant security agencies to make it illegal for anyone to take out unprocessed minerals.
Fayemi said, while unauthorised export of unprocessed minerals is injurious to the economic plan of the government said the ministry’s current focus is to ensure that operators set up plants in the country, process the minerals and can then export the finished product.
According to him, “taking out unprocessed minerals under any guise is unacceptable and we have taken a firm position on this.
“We will make it difficult for anybody to take out unprocessed minerals. We are working with the Customs and other relevel security agencies to put an end to this.
“We will support band encourage operators to set up plants, process the minerals here and you can then export it.
“The Minister added that the economic diversification and employment generation can only be realised with operators cooperating with government on the mining policy”, he added.
Speaking further, the minister said government is taking the security of mines more seriously, adding that a special task force has been put in place to check nefarious activities in mining sites and also to ensure compliance with environmental and security regulations.
He announced that the Nigerian Police has responded to the security issue with the establishment of Mines Division in all its state commands.
The Mine Police, which according to the Minister was structured after the Mine Police which was active in the sixties and seventies, would help to halt criminal activities in the sector.
While noting that the country has one of the best mining laws, said enforcement had always being a challenge. He said many criminal minded individuals had taken advantage of this poor enforcement to enrich themselves at the expense of the country.
Fayemi who lauded the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, for the Mine Police initiative, urged artisanal and operators in the country to comply with regulations guiding the mining sector as contained in the Minerals and Mining Act 2007.