Illegal mining
Mining. Image: Daily Trust

Eighty per cent of mining activities in Nigeria are illegal, making the country lose billions of Naira annually, the federal government has said.

Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Georgina Ekeoma, who disclosed this in Jos at the opening ceremony for ‘Capacity Building for Special Mines Surveillance Task Force on Illegal Mining’ said activities of illegal miners have greatly constrained the contribution of the mining sector to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

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Ekeoma added that the products of the illegal activities are smuggled out of the country thereby depriving government of supposed royalties, and posing serious detriments to the Nigerian economy.

“Mr President has expressed concern over the alarming rate of illegal mining going on in the country and its attendant consequence of scaring off investors, as well as making an unattractive investment for sustainable development of the sector.

“We will, therefore, be delighted to see the end of the menace in Nigeria. That is why the government established the Presidential Special Mines Surveillance Task Force in 2012 with membership drawn from relevant ministries and security organisations,” he said.

Ekeoma told members of the Taskforce that the sector is critical to the realisation of government’s confidence as a substitute for oil in revenue generation and charged them with the responsibility of curbing illegal mining, reducing environmental degradation and plugging revenue leakages amongst others.

“While appreciating the risks involved in your operations, I would like to commend you for your efforts so far at achieving your mandate. But much still needs to be done by the SMSTF especially with the disturbing upsurge in illegal mining activities across the federation particularly in Ebonyi, Niger, Plateau, Oyo, Taraba and Zamfara.”

He also advised them to avoid the temptation of compromising the objective of their assignment by conniving with or serving as a cover for illegal miners.

“I admonish you to focus your drive on the illegal mining activities perpetrated by foreign operators. These operators will never engage in such activities in their countries knowing it will deny their government of due revenue. As a result, you should not support them in undermining our economy to the detriment of us all,” He advised.