FG warns against illegal mining operations
The federal government has warned against illegal mining operations across the country stating that such operations constitute economic sabotage and punishable under the law.
Speaking with journalists on Tuesday in Lagos, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite, stated that the government doesn’t realized any revenue or benefit from illegal mining operations and said there is need for legal mining operations to be encouraged by bringing in foreign investors with expertise to develop the mining sector.
According to him, “illegal mining is an act of economic sabotage and it is punishable by law. Everyone agrees that Nigeria has numerous mineral resources but investors are shying away because they want to be sure that they can recoup their investment.
“Illegal miners do not pay royalty to the government, do not process the mineral resources but export them in raw form without creating value, but we are encouraging them to get approval from the government, pay royalties and process the mineral resources before export.
“We have established an understanding with the central bank of Nigeria (CBN) where you can sell your processed minerals to the CBN at prevailing international prices or export them by yourself.
“We hope this would help in mitigating against illegal mining, remove the bureaucratic bottlenecks in exporting the resources and in getting export permit.”
He said his ministry is working of providing the much needed information about the seven strategic minerals identified for intervention and by the end of the first quarter 2020, data on the key minerals would have been ready for investors to analyze and take investment decision. He listed the seven strategic minerals to include: coal, bitumen, limestone, ore, barite, gold and lead.
He underscored the effects of illegal mining operations by linking them with unrest in some part of the country and environmental degradation.
“Illegal mining operations have been linked to unrest in some part of the country and the environment is left worse off. We are reaching out to state governments in various states with mineral deposits to collaborate with us and promote clean environment, revenue generation and safety of the people,” he said.
He explained further that such states with mineral deposits are enjoying the 13 per cent derivation fund.
He also stated that 44 different mineral resources have been discovered in Nigeria including Lithium which he said the country has in abundance.
Meanwhile, Arc. Adegbite said the Nigerian government will sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with its Russian counterpart during the first quarter of 2020 on the completion of Ajaokuta Steel Company.
He said as part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts to diversify the economy and revive the steel company, the Russians will build the company, operate it and transfer after the expiration of an agreed tenure.
He said at full optimization, the Ajaokuta Steel Company will employ over 10000 engineers and a huge multiplier effect on the economy.