By Kasim Sumaina
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr. Olamilekan Adegbite, yesterday said the ministry had resolved to avoid a repeat of the Zamfara State experience in Nasarawa State, in which bandits were largely in charge of the gold mining in that state (Zamfara).
This is even as he assured the Nasarawa State governor of the ministry’s intention to develop the mineral resources in the state.
Adegbite gave the assurance during the visit of the Governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Sule, to the ministry.
The minister in a statement issued yesterday in Abuja by his media aide, Ayodeji Adeyemi, revealed that gold had been discovered along the Abuja-Nasarawa axis through the National Integrated Mineral Exploration Project (NIMEP) programme undertaken by the ministry.
He noted that the NIMEP project, which had cost the ministry N15 billion, had generated troves of geoscience data that had foreign investors excited about the juicy mining prospects in the country.
According to the minister, “It is a pleasure to receive the governor of Nasarawa State in my office today, and this should not be a surprise because the state is the home of solid minerals in the country.
“We had an earlier discussion about recent discovery of precious minerals at the Nasarawa-Abuja axis. As you probably might be aware, we have been talking about this for a while; there is a programme called NIMEP, which is executed by the ministry, where government has put about N15 billion into exploration for minerals, one of which is gold, and we have done this exploration over the country, and we have discovered a very nice track of gold deposits especially between Abuja and Nasarawa State.”
The minister equally allayed the concerns of Nasarawa State Government about the menace of illegal gold mining taking place in the state due to the large deposits of gold in the state.
He said the ministry was working with relevant security agencies to avert any unwanted scenario in the state, adding: “We know that gold mining attracts a lot of undesirables. Wherever this people smell gold, if I may use the word smell, whenever they have inkling that there is gold, it somehow attracts undesirable elements. It always follows that we have illegality developing around there.
“However, we are working hard to nip these situations in the bud. We don’t want banditry in Nasarawa State and Abuja on the trail of gold, as it has unfortunately happened in Zamfara State.”
Adegbite, however, stated that the ministry had a special mines police that are saddled with the responsibility to curb the menace of illegal mining in the country.
The Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, in his response, said the state was prepared to work with the ministry to prevent the snowballing of illegal mining in the state, revealing that his administration was indeed concerned about the threat of illegal mining and its associated vices.
The governor revealed that despite experiencing some form of illegal mining of gold in the area called Ukai, it had indeed attracted some respectable companies which were mining legally in the state.