Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The inability of the federal government to get substantial revenue from the mining of Nigeria’s solid minerals has been attributed to the use of obsolete equipment by artisanal miners operating in the sector by the Nigerian Institute of Mining and Geosciences (NIMG).
According to the NIMG, artisanal miners now run widespread operations in the sector, but their returns to the government have however remained minimal.
The Director General of NIMG, Prof. Suleiman Hassan, stated recently on the sidelines of a training on human capital development for employees of the institute in conjunction with Geocardinal Engineering Services Limited, that the government had started to train artisanal miners in its bid to grow the revenue it expects from the sector.
“The government is not making enough revenue now because the equipment they (artisanal miners) use are not the ones that can give us the best in mining activities,” said Hassan, when asked if the government was getting the required revenue from the industry considering the widespread operations of artisanal miners.
He further explained: “This is because after you mine the resources, you still have to put value to the minerals, and to do this you need to use some of the sophisticated equipment in the sector.
“So, until our miners have access to some of these equipment that will enable them to take the minerals from the earth, process and put value to them and get quality price in the market, the revenue may not come as required.”
He noted: “So, right now the government may not be getting as much as is expected because the minerals are not sold in their final qualities that should bring in more money. This is why the ministry is making frantic effort to ensure that some of these miners are equipped with latest equipment to transform their raw materials into finished goods.”
Although Hassan could not give the estimated amount which the government was losing in the sector as a result of the lack of standard mining equipment, he insisted that a lot of revenue was being lost due to this.
On the essence of the training, the Technical Director, Geocardinal Engineering Services Limited, Adeyemo Titilope, said it would further sharpen the skills of NIMG workers and help grow the overall output of Nigeria’s mining sector.
Titilope, stated that: “The aim of the capacity building programme to employees of NIMG is to enhance their capability to discharge their duties effectively. So, we bring experts to train them on how they can perform their work efficiently for the benefit and growth of the institute.”
“The institute is a research based organisation with different departments that need to be grounded in geology, mining and research. So, we are here to widen their scope for them to be able to meet up with their mandate,” Titilope, added.
Meanwhile, Hassan, also stated that it was not right to refer to artisanal miners as illegal because the government now has a record of their existence and operations.
“We don’t call them illegal miners, rather they are called artisanal miners because the government is aware that these people are at most of the mining sites. However, because of the crude method they use to get some of these mineral resources, people call them illegal miners. But we call them artisanal miners.
“My ministry is trying as much as possible to train them and expose them to the equipment that will make them move away from the crude method of mining that exposes them to dangers posed by such activities,” he explained.
He further stated that their activities were coordinated by the government, adding that these activities were tailored in such a way that the miners had set up a body and that most of the known mining sites that they mine from were on the government’s records.