Illegal mining: Senate seeks probe of $9bn revenue loss

The Senate on Thursday called on the Federal Government to investigate illegal mining and smuggling of gold in the country.

It tasked President Muhammadu Buhari to combat the revenue leakages, giving estimated loss to federation account amounting to $9billion.

The Senate equally mandated the Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy to investigate all illegal mining and revenue leakages associated with the illegal mining activities.

These resolutions were sequel to a motion sponsored by former Abia state governor and Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu.

The Senator representing Abia North while presenting the motion noted that “Nigeria lost close to $54billion from 2012-2018 due to illegal smuggling of gold.” He declared that “the country is said to be losing about $9billion yearly to illegal mining and gold exportation, a huge amount of money unaccounted for through under the radar sales of the expensive commodity.”

The Abia North senator maintained that “the activities of unlicensed miners were becoming prevalent within the industry and the incessant smuggling of solid minerals out of the country by middlemen and smugglers, is leading to loss of government revenue.”

According to him, gold mining operations in the country is capable of providing over 250, 000 jobs and over $500million annually in royalties and taxes to the federal government and as mineral resources.

He further submitted that the mining sector, if well harnessed could boost the nation foreign exchange earnings.

“Given our current estimated gold reserves of over 200million ounces, most of which have not been exploited, developing sustainable programmes that will catalyse increased investment in the extraction and refining of gold sourced from mines in Nigeria, is indeed vital.”

The former Abia state expressed reservations over the illegal mining operations in certain states in the country which he noted was a breach of the Constitution which placed mining in the exclusive legislative list.

In his contribution, Senator representing Kogi west, Smart Adeyemi also stressed the need for government to seal up illegal mining activities since it also undermines national security.

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