By Lawrence Olaoye
The federal government has said that the nation lost them sum of $9 billion to illegal mining, export of gold and other mineral resources between 2014 and 2015.
This was disclosed yesterday by the Minister of Mines and Solid Minerals, Kayode Fayemi, while briefing newsmen after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa.
The minister said the government placed the sum of N5 billion in the Bank of Industry (BOI) to support the activities of Artisanal and small scale miners for them to formalize their operations by forming themselves into cooperatives.
According to him, several other measures, including employment of information technology, constitution of specialized security outfits and procurement of 50 Hilux patrol vehicles were adopted to curb illegal mining in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The minister added that the bulk of industrial contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as recorded by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) was from mining and quarry activities.
He said “NEITI (Nigerian Extractive Industries Initiative) has just released its report and that report made it clear that in 2014 and 2015, what we lost to illegal mining operation was somewhere in the region of about $9billion particularly from gold illegal exportation.
There were other things that were illegally taken out, lead, zinc, tin and coal.
“You recall that in the roadmap the Federal Executive Council approved last year, there is the establishment of the Special Mines Surveillance Task Force.
“This memo that went to Council requested from Council the approval of the procurement of 50 Hilux Vehicles for the Special Mines Surveillance Task Force to capacitate them in their work to monitor and curb illegal mining activities in all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory and then to support the collaboration between the State and federal governments via the Mineral Resources and Environmental Committees that the Mining Act has allowed to set up in all the states.
“So this memo went to Council for the procurement of 50 Toyota Hilux Vans for the sum of N987 million at a set piece of about N19.3 million per a vehicle. But it just forms part of an overarching framework because Council also underscores the fact that this one vehicle per state cannot solve all the problems but in order to begin to tackle the issues, we need to start from somewhere and ultimately the goal is to ensure that we deploy technology to monitor the illegal activities across the length and breadth of the country and through that capacitate the security services.
“The Special Mines Surveillance Task Force is made up of all security agencies. The DSS, the Police, the Civil Defence, EFCC and the National Security Adviser’s Office.
“You may be aware that over the course of last year, the Police have established Mines Police and we now have a Commissioner of Police in-charge of Mines Police. We have a Commandant from the Civil Defence also exclusively deployed for mines activities.
“If we can stop the spate of illegal activities, not just by Nigerians but by Nigerians in collaboration with some foreigners, we will significantly improve the revenue that comes from that sector, increase the contributions to GDP, increase the royalty to government and also provide more jobs for our people.
“The other side of reducing illegal and informal activities is the formalisation of small scale miners and artisan miners and you may all be aware that recently, we placed N5 billion in the Bank of Industry to support the activities of Artisanal and small scale miners to formalize their operations, form into cooperatives and then get more capacitated by government.”