Govt to raise team against illegal mining
Stakeholders seek creation of solid minerals exploration fund
The Federal Government may have concluded plans to raise a team to tackle the menace of illegal mining in the country, going by the administration’s plan to revive the taskforce for the sanitisation of operations in the industry.
The Chief Executive Officer Mining Cadastral Office, Mohammed Amate, who stated this in Abuja, while speaking at the Nigeria Mining Forum organised by the Infrastructural Partnerships for African Development (IPAD) and PwC, explained that the present administration is ready to resuscitate the committee in its drive to increase the revenue accruable to government covers from the sector.
He said: “You cannot have big foreign companies that have spent millions of dollars to do an exploration only to find somebody messing around title. We have a department in the ministry, mining inspectorate department is already making presentations urging for adequate funding towards curtailing the activities of illegal mining. Government is addressing this issue. In 2013, government set up a very high-powered committee comprised the Inspector General of Police, Comptroller General of Immigration with the Minister of Mine and Steel Development as Chair. But the committee did not take off due to some circumstances but I want to assure that a new committee would be raised by this government soon to tackle the problem.”
Stakeholders in the sector are also lamenting financial constraints, inadequate geological data and multiple government agencies claiming right over mining control as factors the new Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, must tackle for Nigeria to join the league of elite mining countries in the world.
The President of Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN), Sani Shehu, explained that non-availability of data is threatening information gathering concerning mining sites.
While calling for the decentralization of the Mining Cadastral office, Shehu stated that the centralization of the office makes accessibility difficult for miners who operate in all the states of the federation.
He added: “We urge the Federal Government to extend the presence of Cadastral office to the six-geo-political zones of the country if not in every state in the country. Having a centralized office in Abuja prolongs processes and operation of miners.”
But to the General Manager, Corporate of Symbol Base Metals, Australia, Carmie Olowoyo, added infrastructure deficit to the financial crunch troubling the sector.
“Unfortunately for Nigeria, it is exploration capital that is needed to kick-start the sector. In order to attract capital, Nigeria as a country and the companies developing mining projects in the country must al they can to limit investor risks. Another challenge is lack of infrastructure. Mining projects can take a long time to develop and exploration and development capital would prefer to come in when infrastructure is already in place, the infrastructure deficiency in Nigeria is significant,” he stated.
The Managing Partner and Head, Energy and Infrastructure Group, Advocaat Law Practice, Ola Alokolaro, pointed non-strict regulation of mining titles as a major challenge.
He added: Whilst a mining cadastral office has been set up and there is better transparency on the issuance of mining titles, there is still a need for the monitoring of minimum work obligations of licensees; environmental compliance an the enforcement of the ‘use it or lose it’ principles. Secondly, the lack of adequate road and rail infrastructure is a hindrance to mining investments. We should be looking at the Public Private Partnership (PPP) options to develop infrastructure. Another factor is the funding of public mining institutions so as to be able to enforce provisions of the law and lastly access to long terns funding to finance mining projects.”