Grace Obike, Abuja
The Federal Government has discovered a total number of 1,759 Illegal mining sites across the country.
It also registered 1,346 illegal mining operators, each of which comprise of over 10 members into cooperatives in readiness to access small-scale mining licences.
Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, who made the disclosures, said that the government has continued to ensure host communities of mining activities receive socio-economic benefits of the venture, which has so far led to community development projects in more than 250 mining communities.
He said that such communities have benefited from rural road infrastructural facilities, borehole projects, class rooms and scholarship programmes as a result of mining operations within their areas.
Adegbite spoke in Ekiti state at the at the 3rd meeting of the National Council on Mining and Minerals Resources Development (NCMMRD) with the theme, ‘Nigeria minerals and metal sector: spectrum for investment opportunities for economic growth and development.’
His words: “In the area of poverty eradication, the Ministry has engaged other major stakeholders to ensure the formalization of the Artisanal Miners into cooperative groups for easier management and access to financial support and commodity markets.
“In this regard, a total number of 1,759 Artisanal and Small Scale Miners (ASM) sites have so far been identified across Nigeria. With consistent interventions by the Federal Government through the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD), 1,346 Artisanal Mining operators have been drawn into forming registered Artisanal Mining cooperatives in readiness to access SmalI-scale Mining licences. Each of the 1,346 mining cooperatives comprise over 10 members; with additional 20 mine workers for each cooperative.
“In addition, the Ministry has continued to ensure that host communities to mining activities receive the socio-economic benefits of such ventures through the Community Development Agreements in line with the provisions of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007.
“To facilitate this, the ministry produced guidelines for the provision of CDA in the mining sector. So far, through the community development projects more than 250 mining communities have benefited from rural road infrastructural facilities, borehole projects, class rooms and scholarship programmes as a result of mining operations within their areas.
“It is a continuous process from the operators who have been organised into groups, they can come forward and apply for loans, it is not for us to go out and distribute money, every one is aware that the money exists, people should come up with plans, cooperative bodies that are fully registered will be able to serve as guarantors to individuals. Ones the artisanal sites have been discovered like we did, we can approach them and teach them safer methods of mining.”
Minister of State, Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah, said the recommendations arrived at will go a long way in addressing some of the inhibiting factors militating against the sustainable growth of the sector.
He also said that President Buhari has shown keen intrest and political will to move the sector forward in line with his administrations commitment to diversify the economy using the mining industry as one of the key sectors.