NEITI: Niger, Plateau Top Nigeria’s Illegal Mining List

Dr. Orji Ogbonanya Orji

Chineme Okafor in Abuja

A report by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has disclosed that six states in Nigeria were the leading destinations for illegal mining of solid minerals in the country.

The report: “Improving Transparency and Governance for Value Optimisation in Nigeria’s Mining Sector,” was presented to the public yesterday in Abuja by NEITI.

It explained that out of the six states topping the illegal mining list, Niger had more with 10 illegal mining sites where minerals such as gold, lead, zinc and tantalite are consistently mined illegally.

It added that Plateau State was next on the list with seven illegal mining sites found to be taking away tin; columbite, Barites and Zinc. Ebonyi and Imo States had five illegal mining sites, while Enugu and Zamfara States had four sites from where minerals which include lateritic soil; lead; zinc; and gold are mined on illegal basis.

The report also lamented that there were no globally recognised mining major or minor companies in Nigeria’s mining industry, adding that they mostly shun the country’s mining sector because it currently does not look attractive to them.

According to it, the sector’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Nigeria has dwindled from about five per cent that it was in the 1960s and 1970s, to a mere 0.5 per cent at the moment.

It explained that despite the recent efforts of the federal government to revive the mining sector, there are still obvious shortfalls especially with regards to governance and transparency in the sector.

With regards to revenue generation between 2007 and 2016, a period of 10 years, the report explained that while the country’s oil and gas sector has yielded to it $474 billion, the solid minerals sector provided a mere $1.777 billion to it.

According to it, if the country is able to properly harness up to 54 different minerals found across its states, they could contribute to her national stock of foreign exchange, in addition to becoming tools for wealth creation for her citizens.

The report however stated that, “transparency and governance issues which are the sine qua non for a holistic beneficial development of the sector, are still on the low side.”

“Current efforts including the new mining roadmap, concerted reorganisation of the regulatory ministry and the strengthening of the organs of the ministry, though ongoing, still have not yet resulted in the desired quantum leap. This is due to the long years of neglect,” it added.

It said that the seven main areas that needed improvement on, included, sustaining a robust regulatory framework; revamping the institution and technical structure of the sector; getting the licensing framework right; enhancing and plugging loopholes in the production and revenue profile; as well as making available geo-science data generated in the sector.

Similarly, it called for a more conducive business environment for investment in the sector, adding: “Overall, a comparative narrative indicates that the long and fractured history of the mining in Nigeria, if properly developed along acceptable global standards of consistency of governance and transparency, the sector still holds a lot of promise and prospects for the holistic development of the Nigerian economy, which will be beneficial to all as it transitions from the lower rung of the community upwards.”