By ‘Dotun Akintomide
The federal government has lamented over the activities of illegal miners which has made the nation lost about $9 billion (N3trn) in two years with huge losses recorded in illegal gold exportation.
The minister of mines and solid minerals, Kayode Fayemi, made this known after the Federal Executive Council ( FEC) meeting on Wednesday.
According to him there was a significant improvement in the contribution of mining to the country’s GDP according to the National Bureau of Statistics ( NBS) report.
In his words: “The memo presented to council has to do with contribution of mining to the GDP. In the latest figure of GDP, there is significant improvement industrial contribution after agriculture to that report as was released by the National Bureau for Statistics.
“NBS states that 8.97 per cent increase has happened and the bulk of the contribution from the industry is from mining and quarry activities.
“But the primary reason for this memo is the fact that mining could still do a lot more in terms of its contribution.
“NEITI 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 $9 billion particularly from gold illegal exportation. There were other things that were illegally taken out, lead, zinc, tin and coal.”
The minister recalled that in the roadmap of mining FEC approved last year, there was provision for the establishment of the Special Mines Surveillance Task Force.
He said the memo requested from council the approval of the procurement of 50 Hilux vehicles for the Special Mines Surveillance Task Force to enable them monitor and curb illegal mining activities in all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
He added that the memo seeks 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,”he explained.
He stated that the Special Mines Surveillance Task Force was 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.”
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