Illegal Miners Sabotaging Efforts Towards Diversification, Says FG

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Seriki Adinoyi in Jos

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Abdulkadri Muazu has told members of the Special Mines Surveillance Taskforce (SMSTF) on illegal mining that the President has expressed disgust and concern over illegal mining activities in the country, adding that it has posed a great threat to government’s efforts at diversifying the economy from oil to solid mineral sector.

Muazu, who was represented by Engineer Karnap Wuyep, a Director in the Ministry’s Inspectorate, Abuja, stated this in Jos at the opening ceremony on “Capacity Building for members of Special Mines Surveillance Taskforce on Illegal Mining.”

The workshop, which drew participants from Directorate of Security Service (DSS), Customs, Civil Defence, Immigration and the Police, was aimed at enlightening and educating the taskforce on what constituted illegal mining as contained in the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act 2007, its ancillary regulations 2011, Explosives of 1964 and Regulations 1967.

Muazu said the menace of illegal mining was not attracting investment for sustainable development in the sector but rather, discouraging investment, hence it must be addressed quickly.

He said in an attempt to address the issue, the past government of President Goodluck Jonathan established the Presidential Special Mines Surveillance Taskforce (PSMSTF) in 2012 with membership drawn from relevant ministries and security organisations.

“Due to funding challenges, PSMSTF could not deliver its mandate, and this led to an upsurge in the activities of illegal mining across states of the Federation particularly in Ebonyi, Niger, Plateau, Oyo, Taraba and Zamfara states, and hence the need to resuscitate the PSMSTF in 2017.

“The Special Mines Surveillance Taskforce is charged with the responsibility of curbing illegal mining, reducing environmental degradation and plugging of revenue leakages amongst others,” he said.

He added that, “The Taskforce was structured into short, medium and long terms targets to achieve its mandate of which one of the medium term targets is the enlightenment and education of its members on relevant aspects of mining particularly mining legislations, mineral identification and so on.

While noting that the ministry has developed a curriculum that would enhance the capacity of members on their knowledge of mineral ecosystem, he added that highly resourceful persons who have made valuable contributions to the growth of the sector were selected to impart the curriculum to participants.

He appealed to all participants to avoid by all means the temptation of compromising the objective of the assignment by conniving with illegal miners or cover up. “You must focus on mega illegal mining perpetrated by foreign operators.”

Muazu also assured participants that the ministry, based on available budgetary allocation and other intervention funds, would endeavour to provide relevant logistics and funds needed to accomplish the taskforce assignment.

He said, “It is my belief and hope that at the end of this workshop, the knowledge and skills gained by participants would equip them for proper minefield monitoring and surveillance to curb illegal mining and other associated vices across the states of the federation.