No fewer than 1,260 abandoned mining sites have been discovered in the country by the Federal Government.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite on Tuesday said the Federal Government had been able to recover 25 sites from 2007 that the programme started.
The Minister advised miners to form viable cooperatives, to enable them access government intervention fund.
He spoke in Abuja, when the Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN) visited him. They were in his office to brief him on the forthcoming Nigeria Mining Week slated for October 14 and 16.
The group was led by its immediate past president, Alhaji Shehu Sani.
The Nigeria Mining Week, which is organised by MAN, will be hosted by the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.
The minister said except miners formed viable cooperatives, they might not be able to access the funds just as he assured the association that the N2.5 billion government intervention fund to support miners was intact.
He, however, said some of those who tried to access the fund did not submit the correct information to enable them access the funds.
The minister added that part of the money would be used to purchase equipment, which would be located strategically across the country for miners to lease.
He said the ministry would ensure the right environment to attract investors into the country’s mining sector.
“I am pretty new but am learning fast and I know that with the potentials in the solid mineral sector, we can surpass earrings for the oil sector.
“We have started and we intend to deepen the process, so that Nigerians can continue to enjoy the potential of the sector,“ he said.
The minister expressed optimism that with proper attention, the solid mineral sector would address issues of unemployment, insecurity and youth restiveness in the country.
He further assured that the ministry would continue to support the organisation especially with regards to the coming Nigeria Mining Week and all its other activities.
Also, Alhaji Kabir Mohammed, MAN president, said the country’s solid mineral sector could give alternative revenue source to government.
“We make bold to affirm that the country’s solid mineral sector is capable of giving alternative revenue source to government, almost what the oil and gas sector is giving, ” he said.
According to him, the sector is capable of alleviating poverty among the peasant population and providing massive raw materials for others.
He explained that the potentials of the country’s solid mineral sector could be transformed to create massive wealth for the nation and the citizens.
The Nation reports that Mohammed said that the Nigeria Mining Week, which started in 2016, had maintained steady growth in content delivery and participation as well as the administration of local and foreign interest in the mining ecosystem.
He added that the event was gradually attaining the status of international mineral shows and exhibitions in the known mining jurisdiction across the world.
“Between the first edition in 2016 and now, there have been some milestone achievements, not only in terms of the numerical growth of participants but particularly in areas of deliverables and generating attention of global players,” he said.
This, he said, was in tandem with the economic diversification agenda of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
Mohammed while expressing gratitude to the minister for his support so far, said this year`s edition of the event was designed to critic factors militating against the development of the mineral sector along the value chain.
He said this was necessary if the country would not remain perpetually a potential nation.
He called on public and private sector stakeholders to fully participate in the event to harness the opportunities in the sector and address the challenges, which he said included; security, transportation and funding windows.