OrderPaperToday – The House of Representatives has lamented Nigeria’s loss of about $9 billion (nine billion dollars) to illegal mining annually.
This is in addition to loss of lives as a result of mining activities caused by poor environmental protection policies.
Disclosing this on Tuesday in plenary, the House also urged the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development to provide geological records of gold deposits in Nigeria.
This is just as it stressed the need for the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, whose responsibilities are to promote full-scale gold mining in Nigeria, to facilitate interaction between mining employers, examine mining policy issue and create partnerships with key stakeholders.
The representatives, in a motion on the need to prioritise gold mining as one of the major earners of revenue to the nation sponsored Mr. Oghene Egoh (PDP, Lagos) during plenary on Tuesday, also called for modernised and conducive policies, legislative and functional environment to facilitate real investments in gold mining.
Leading debate on the motion, Mr. Egoh noted that on 7 April 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 license of any recalcitrant mining operator.
He stated that with about 21.40 tons of gold deposits, Nigeria has a need for many large scale gold mining companies, alongside gold mining policies and a state of the art geological survey, including map production and maintenance of up to date geological records.
Egoh also added health and safety inspections and maintenance records, legal records of licences and legal examination of new applications, among others to the list of requirements.
He noted further that officially, “mining in Nigeria accounts for a mere 0.3% of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP), meaning that the Federal Government may 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 its revenues through the payment of royalties, employees income taxes and corporate taxes.
The lawmaker expressed worry that though gold is found in large quantities in Zamfara State, illegal miners cart away billions of dollars’ worth of gold yearly, leaving the it with a poor state of education and inadequate healthcare system.
He added that if the resources are effectively managed by the government, 30% derivation from gold earnings would go a long way in boosting the economy of the state, while the remaining 70% can go into the federation account.
Contributing to the debate, members, irrespective of party affiliation, called for a legislation to enable the provision of more funding for mining exploration.
They argued in the same vein that if the gold mining is properly harnessed, it will assist in boosting the revenue of the country.
“There’s need for an amendment of the laws to allow states explore its mineral resources. Every state in the country have one or two mineral resources,” said Mr. Mohammed Monguno (APC, Borno).
The motion was adopted by the House through a voice vote put up by the presiding officer, Deputy Speaker Ahmed Wase.
The Committee on Solid Minerals Development was mandated to ensure compliance.