The Federal Government says the country lost $9 billion to the export of proceeds of illegal mining activities between 2014 and 2015, and has approved N987 million for the purchase of 50 Toyota Hilux vehicles for the monitoring and curbing of illegal mining in the 36 states of the federation and the FCT.
This was made known to State House correspondents by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Kayode Fayemi, at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He stated that the $9 billion loss in the sector was contained in a recent report by the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, NEITI.
Fayemi explained that the $9 billion loss was recorded mainly from the illegal export of gold, lead, tin and coal, adding that the vehicles for deployment were purchased at the cost of over N19 million each.
He revealed that the approval was sequel to the realisation that the deployment of one vehicle per state could not make significant impact in the monitoring of illegal mining activities.
The minister said the bulk of the significant increase of 8.97 per cent in the contribution of agriculture and industry to Gross Domestic Product, GDP, growth in the third quarter of 2017 as released by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, on Monday came from mining and quarrying activities.
He stated that the council meeting, which held in the conference room of the Office of the First Lady in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, also approved the constitution of Special Mining Surveillance Task Force with the mandate to monitor and curb illegal mining across the country.
He also disclosed that the task force will comprise security personnel deployed from all security agencies including the Nigeria Police, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Department of State Services, DSS, National Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, and the office of the National Security Adviser, NSA.
Disclosing that the police had established mines police to support the initiative, Fayemi stated that the a Mines Police Commissioner had consequently been appointed by the Nigeria Police and similar office has also been created in NSCDC.
He stated that once illegal mining is put under control, there will be a significant contribution from the sector to the country’s GDP as well as an increase in government royalty and job creation for the teeming populace.
The minister, who said government’s ultimate goal was to deploy technology to monitor illegal mining, also noted that Federal Government’s initiative on mines and steel development will involve the collaboration of federal and state governments through the setting up Mineral Resources and Environmental Committee as provided for in Mining Act.
He also said the memo presented to the council also included moves to formalise small scale mining and artisan’s mining, which, according to him, was preceded by the earlier deposit of N5 billion in the bank to assist small scale miners and artisan miners. He said this would also involve the advent of a cooperative society.