Mineral Resources: Minister Moves To Stop Illegal Miners, Shore Up Nigeria’s Annual  Revenue Generations

By Stephen Ubanna and Suleiman Umaru

 This is not the best of times for foreign illegal miners and their local collaborators who had been operating in solid mineral- rich states of Zamfara, Ekiti, Osun and other states across the country over the years without following the laid down regulations.

This is because, Dele Alake, minister of Solid Minerals Development who is not ready to take an excuse for an answer for the continued illegal mining activities in the country appears to have taken the bull by the horn to address the problem without looking back on whose ox is gored.

The minister, who is not happy over what is happening in the nation’s solid minerals sector where

millions of the North American country of the United States, US, dollars, which runs into billions naira have been lost by the government annually to the illegal miners who pose a threat to the economy has given his words that the ministry will ‘’review all mining licenses in the country’’ as part of the government renewed hope transformation agenda.

Other transformation that will be carried out in the ministry, the minister had listed to put the sector on the path of growth and another major steady and reliable   revenue generating source for the government is the formation of Nigerian Solid Minerals Cooperation, Joint Ventures with mining multinational nationals, MNC,  and setting up if mine Police /Taskforce  and the creation of six  Mineral Processing Centres that would focus  on value-added products and generation of data for solid mineral  deposits across the country.

Alake , who is determined to succeed where past  ministers of the Solid minerals Development ministry has failed, given the backing from President Bola Ahmed Tinubu was said to have made it clear to those that cares to him that he will sanitize the  nation’s solid minerals sectors by adopting  more  ‘’stringent  regulations to create stability’’.

This may have informed why the Solid minerals minister   had issued a 30- day ultimatum, starting from Sunday, September 3, 2023, to the illegal miners ‘’to join a miners Cooperatives or relocate from Nigeria to another Area as the heat may be too much for them to bear as the full weight of the law would be employed to deal with them if caught in the act. An angry Alake had recalled that all past administrations efforts to formalize the unlicensed illegal miners into Cooperatives failed

As a prelude to ensuring that   all the present sanitizing measures put in place are fully implemented without any form of abuse, to ensure only legal mining of the nation’s solid minerals, the minister who could not hide his feelings had declared that from October 30, 2023, a rejuvenated security regime will become operational in the Solid minerals sector, noting that the officers will be drawn mostly from Kayode Egbetokun led Nigerian Police Force, NPF.

He had asserted that members of the rejuvenated solid minerals security regime that will be drawn from the Force will be given special training ‘’to be able to protect the country from the activities of illegal miners and apprehend offenders who will be prosecuted as a deterrence to others.

He did not stop there.  He was said have further stated that the neew Surveillance Security Task force has been designed in such a way that it will also coordinate the mines police and proactively to address high risk incidences of breach of the nation’s mining Laws.

An Illegal Mining Site In Zamfara State

The minister has agood news for investors in the untapped solid minerals sector as he has promised that as part of the ongoing government efforts to improve the economy and create job opportunities for the teeming unemployed Nigerians to give priority to the investor, both local and foreign.

Alake, may have won the heart of the visiting Australian High Commission to Nigeria, Ms. Lean Johnson to his office who had promised ‘’ to provide support for the optimization of solid minerals development in Niger.  An appreciate Alake, who is very happy with the transformation measures that had been initiated in the ministry for the development of the solid minerals sector may have gladdened the heart of Nigerians when he boosted that the ministry alone, will add at least 50% of revenue to the Nigerian economy, stressing that the ministry is poised ‘’to attract Foreign Direct Investment, FID, to the country.

 The United Nations, UN, had said that Nigeria has large deposits of solid minerals across the 36 states of the Federation and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT,if fully developed   could fetch the country  about  $53 billion  annually, which runs into triillions of  naira annually.

  Late Aliyu Shinkaffi, a -one time governor of Zamfara, who was not happy over the devastation   of the state’s economy by the illegal miners had revealed that the state alone possesses over 60% of the country’s solid minerals deposits comprising of gold, copper, iron ore, tantalite, Manganese among others.

 Even the public outcry of people in the gold-rich Idoko, Ibala, Itagunmodi, Iponda, Araromi and the Urban neighbourhoods in the Ijesa heartland, in Osun, home state of Gboyega Oyetola, miner of Marines and Blue Economy, speaks volume. The illegal miners in Ekiti and Osun states were said to have relocated from Zamfara due to the military onslaught on the Bandits Group fighters in their forest camps. 

The situation in the north western state of Zamfara may not be different from Ekiti and Osun states where illegal miners were said to have reportedly invaded large tracts of Land, chasing away the local farmers, degrading the soil and depriving the Communities and the public treasury of the benefits of their God-given natural resources.   

Falana, SAN: Says Nigeria Loses $9 billion annually Due To Illegal Mining Activities and Smuggling

 Giving the high level of illegal mining activities across the country, particular, Zamfara, Ekiti and States,  Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, and activist, had alluded to the report of the Nigeria Economic Support Group, NESG,  which says that   the nation’s Solid minerals sector   accounts  for 0.3% of national employment, 0.2% of exports  and about N400 billion  or less than   one percent  of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP, blaming the poor performance of the sector to ‘’illegal mining and smuggling ‘’. The Legal luminary had said that the country loses about $9 billion annually to illegal mining activities and smuggling, through private Jets to put a value to it.

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