Policy Advocacy Platform Tasks FG on Recovery of Gold Assets in Mining Sector

Michael Olugbode in Abuja

The Think Tank on Nigeria (TTON) organisation, a policy advocacy platform, has called on the Nigerian government to get more serious about the recovery of gold assets in the mining sector through transparent national and international bidding.

This was contained in a 19-point resolution reached after a deliberation which focused on the theme: ’The mining sector and national development’, as the recovered gold can be put in a secured vault.

The organisation, in the communique endorsed by 79 members, pointed out that a national mining company should be created to own the assets and be listed on the gold stock exchange in London, United States of America (USA) and Hong Kong.

The other resolutions stated that gold refineries must be established to refine some of the gold from time to time to make ornaments and jewelry for sale locally and internationally.

The advocacy platform added that this same process can be applied to over 36 other minerals available in Nigeria in commercial quantities but currently exploited by artisanal or illegal miners, stressing that government should industrialize the sector by supporting it with more mechanized and advanced mining technology.

Some of the resolutions include: “This would lead to the reduction of unemployment within the country especially within the mining localities. The local miners are knowledgeable, skilled and organized. All they need is motivation from either the organized corporate sector or people-oriented investors.

“The minister that will be appointed to man the Mines and Steel Ministry must possess the requisite knowledge of the industry. He/she, like other ministers, must be ready to sign a performance contract that will spell out timelines to effectively diversify the Nigerian economy from oil to mining.

“There must be a seamless synergy between the state and federal government. The federal government must give exploration licences to the states with the natural minerals; in order to harmonize the artisanal miners properly into cooperative societies.

“There should be a declaration of a state of emergency in this sector as most of the precious minerals are being mined illegally and sold everyday without returns to government. Empowerment of the local government areas to become major stakeholders in these mining sites will ease the tension of insurgency and burden exploitation by some faceless foreigners. Using representative fractions, the local tier should exercise higher authority over fiscal reality.

“There must be political willpower and readiness from the security operatives to combat the mess of natural resources exploitation in Nigeria. Remedial measures should be put in place by the regulatory agency or ministry, mandating mining companies, to put in place, measures to remediate the environment that has been negatively impacted by mining exploration activities.

“Mining activities leave host communities environmentally devastated. Hence, it became mandatory for them to restore the mined sites to its original topography. Mining operations/activities generate fine dust and soot that are dangerous to humans. Mining companies should be mandated to provide basic primary health facilities to host communities. A dispensary, managed by a local matron, will be ideal in a mining community.

“Where host communities/villages share proximity location with mineral mining locations, for health reasons, such communities should be relocated far from mining locations to prevent health hazards to children and others.

“Government, ministry, or any other regulatory agency must create a unit to supervise remedial work to ‘heal’ the environment of local communities that have been devastated by mining operations, with a view to managing the environment and post- mining operations situation.”

The communique said the locals/villagers must be aware and properly oriented to hold the miners accountable for all forms of land degradation that might have occurred in the process of mining operations.

“Part of the ways to improve what the government is doing is PPP (Public Private Partnership). Considering this private participation, there is a need to break down the value chain, and the participatory roles expected from the private sector, this step of PPP could stop and stabilize the theft currently experienced in the mining industry

“The Nigerian Customs Service must rise to the occasion of their responsibilities to curb the excesses of illegal exportation of these resources out of Nigeria which evidently goes through the border post of Nigeria.

“The 13% derivative approach given to the oil-producing states should be applicable to the mining host states. The same 13% derivative should be allocated to the mining host states. Environmental impact assessment, health risk analysis, and other safety procedures must be adopted to ensure residents of these mining locations are free of health endemics,” it said.

The organisation has 286 members of various professions, drawn from the geo-political zones of Nigeria, charged with discussing Nigerian politics, as well as analysing political candidates and policies.

The goal is to proffer solutions to policies and developmental challenges which the country might be faced with, through diverse contributions of expertise in different fields, which could be converted to veritable actions if adopted, to bring needed positive changes.

The  discussion moderated by the Convener, Mr. Dideolu Falobi, noted that despite the sector’s potential to increase the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the nation, it has remained depleted, underutilized and underproductive to the disadvantage of national development.

“Rather, the sector has become tainted with consistent. Today, the labour force in the mining sector is largely informal, under-trained and underpaid among others. How can that be changed?” the meeting asked.

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