Nigeria And Illegal Mining Activities

NIGERIA is endowed with significant solid mineral resources that have the potentials to attract investors and investments to boost economic growth in the country. The mineral resources range from tin, copper, bauxite and gold to mention a few.
Unfortunately, this endowment is being undermined by constant illegal mining by some persons including foreigners, believed to be sponsored by moneybags.
Sadly, the repeated illegal mining activities have resulted in an outbreak of lead poisoning which recently claimed the lives of 28 children in Niger State. A similar incident had occurred in Zamfara State some years ago but on a higher magnitude. A source from the Ministry of Mines and Steel said the children aged under five years died as a result of the poisonous gas and that 10 of them who were critically ill, had been taken to a hospital in Zamfara for treatment.
We vehemently frown at the unfortunate and avoidable deaths precipitated by the activities of the illicit miners in the course of the illegal business. Frankly, the issue of illegal mining calls for serious concern due to the frequency of deaths and the negative effect on the economy of the country.
Apart from the fact that many people have died in the process of illegal mining, it has robbed the nation of incalcuable revenue that could have been used to improve the lives of the people. Besides, the illegal mining has discouraged the diversification of the economy as all attention is now focused on oil. And this is to the detriment of the nation and her citizens. This is not healthy in the nation’s growth because oil is a perishable commodity which will dry up one day and leave the nation financially stranded.
It has been proven that the development of solid minerals sector could yield as much revenue as oil, yet the government and the private sector have refused to develop the sector. We call on the Federal Government to rise up to the challenge in the solid minerals sector to save the nation the agony of early deaths through illegal mining.
Also, it will help the Federal Government to save a lot of significant revenue which is now being lost to individuals and groups who engage in the nefarious business.
Based on what is happening in the sector, we are tempted to ask why there is so much impunity and abuse in the exploitation of the vital minerals.
The impression given is that there are no rules and regulations guiding the exploration and exploitation of solid minerals. The Minerals and Mining Act of 2007 and the Mining Regulations 2011 are still in existence to guide and regulate the mining of minerals in the country. But the authorities in-charge are not enforcing these nor bringing the relevant laws to bear on the perpetrators.
Again, the illegal mining business booms because there is a black market which acts as point of contact between the miners and smugglers of the commodity to any part of the world. Has the government done anything to check this illegal market?
Hope is not, however, lost for the Federal Government to make an inroad in the mining sector. To this end, we call on the federal authories to take another deliberate step to provide fresh relevant data on the solid minerals in the country to attract foreign interests to invest in the sector.
Also, the authorities should demonstrate the political will to fund mining business. We call for urgent attention to these issues because the advantages of mining solid minerals far out-weigh the disadvantages.