Adedayo Akinwale ín Abuja
The House of Representatives has directed the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development to provide geological records of gold deposits in the country.
The directive was given following a motion adopted by the House at plenary on Tuesday on the need to prioritise gold mining as one of the major earners of revenue to the nation, moved by Hon. Oghene Egoh.
He recalled that on April 7th, 2019, the federal government banned all mining activities in Zamfara State and directed all foreigners operating in the mining fields to leave within 48 hours, threatening to revoke the licence of any recalcitrant mining operator.
He noted that Nigeria has about 21.40 tonnes of gold deposits, hence, the need for many large scale gold mining companies, gold mining policies, state of the art geological survey, including map production and maintenance of up to date geological records, health and safety inspections and maintenance records, legal records of licences and legal examination of new applications, among others.
Egoh noted that a publication in THISDAY revealed that Nigeria loses about $9 billion to illegal mining every year, while many lives are lost as a result of mining activities that ignore environmental protection policies.
He said going by the official records that mining in the country accounts for a mere 0.3% of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP), it was an indication that the federal government might not have official records of the amount of mineral deposits in Nigeria which if ascertained, could make the mineral sector one of the largest contributors to government’s revenues through the payment of royalties, employees income taxes and corporate taxes.
Egoh lamented that though gold is found in large quantities in Zamfara State, illegal miners cart away billions of dollars’ worth of gold yearly, leaving the state with poor state of education and inadequate healthcare system.
He acknowledged that if the resources are effectively managed by the government, 30% derivation from gold earnings could go a long way in boosting the economy of Zamfara State, while the remaining 70% would go into the federation account.
Egoh stressed that there was need to set up a body like NNPC to oversee the affairs of the mining sector.
In his contribution, Hon. Muhammed Monguno said that for the country to maximise the solid mineral sector, there was need to amend the constitution and remove solid mineral from exclusive legislative list and put it under concurrent legislative list.
With this, he said, there would be additional revenue, rather than for the state to be coming to the federal government for revenue before they can run their state.
Also contributing, Hon. Yakubu Barde said rather than the federal government increasing Value Added Tax (VAT), the mining sector, if well harnessed, could fetch the country more revenue.
The House therefore, “urge the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development to provide geological records of gold deposits in Nigeria. Mandate the Committee on Solid Minerals Development to ensure compliance”.