Illegal mining has been a constant deliberated upon by the Federal Government, especially as relates to the North-Western region.
Recently, the Kaduna state government announced that illegal mining was the bane of armed banditry in Katsina and other neighboring states.
Alhaji Mustapha Kanti Bello, the Katsina State Commissioner of Rural Development yesterday that the abundance of mineral deposits was the reason for the frequent operation of bandits. He further revealed that a foreign company mined $500 million worth of gold in Zamfara state within seven years.
However, the Federal Government has decided to curb the illegal act as it revealed plans to establish solid mineral processing hubs in the six geopolitical zones of the country. Olamilekan Adegbite, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, made this known at the 2020 Nigeria Mining Week where he revealed that the hubs would be within locations of the artisanal miners.
The conference addressed the topic: ‘Formalising Artisanal and Small Scale Mining: The Urgent Need to Formulate Adequate Policies.’ Adegbite stated that the ministry will consult with artisanal miners to discuss the requirements and reach an agreement on the required type of processing hub.
‘We have some interventions around mining on a regional basis,’ the minister stated while revealing the plan of ‘bringing a processing centre for the artisanal miners in a particular region.’
He further disclosed that ‘there will be hubs in the six geopolitical zones across the country. We will consult with them before deciding on the kind of processing centre they will need.’
Mr. Adegbite noted that small-scale mining in Nigeria accounts for 85 percent and 90 percent of the mining activities in the country. He emphasized the need for artisanal miners to be encouraged in order to create employment and wealth for the country.
Adegbite further posited that classifying the miners as illegal would not solve the problem; instead, they should be inculcated and identified as another tier of standard miners and would be provided with incentives in
order to thrive.
‘At the ministry, we have established a remote sensing station and we are working with the satellite companies to identify areas where artisanal mining is going on’, the minister stated.’
‘When that is done, we send out foot soldiers with handheld equipment, to identify them, take their metrics and engage them on the benefits they will derive if they come together as a group.’ Adegbite also stated that the government has created 400 groups of artisanal miners and plans are being made to create funding opportunities for them.
Hajia Fatima Shinkafi, the Executive Secretary, Solid Minerals Development Fund, stated that most artisanal miners were farmers seeking extra income to earn a living. She called for support initiatives that would equip miners with safe guides and regulatory frameworks such as licensing and opening a bank account on their behalf.