Taraba govt seizes 22,375kg sapphire from illegal miners
Over 22,375 kilogrammes of blue sapphire have been confirmed confiscated from illegal miners in Taraba State. The task force on the suspension of mining activities in the state made the announcement, yesterday, while briefing journalists in Jalingo on its activities since inauguration.
Governor Agbu Kefas, on ascending the governorship seat on May 29, 2023, banned all forms of mining activities across the state. Aside from the ban, a task force headed by a retired General was also assigned to work round the clock to ensure the implementation of the executive order.
According to the chairman, Brig-Gen. Jeremiah Franssa (rtd), the blue sapphire, which is the costliest in the world, was confiscated from one of the recalcitrant companies, flouts the governor’s directives.
He said: “We arrested them and we recovered about 22,375 kilogrammes of blue sapphire, the most expensive mineral in the world. The best quality of blue sapphire can only be found here in Taraba.”
The task force said over 20,000 people are mining in that axis of the state, adding: “The illegal ones among them are camouflaging as labourers under the legal mining companies.”
“What we saw in most of the communities we visited was a very sad tale. These communities have been excavated and destroyed by the activities of both the legal and illegal miners.”
It noted that teenagers, who are supposed to be in school, were being exploited by the mining companies, who paid them N500 or N1,000 daily. Clarifying that the state is not against investors in the mining sector, he said they should follow due process.
Franssa said: “There are certain responsibilities expected of you as a miner, especially regarding environmental protection and public safety. Under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulation 2007, it is expected that after excavation, the miners should refill that land up to 80 per cent.”
Get the latest news delivered straight to your inbox every day of the week. Stay informed with the Guardian’s leading coverage of Nigerian and world news, business, technology and sports.