Dele Alake has stated that the commitment of the ministry of solid minerals development extends to adopting valuable lessons from the failures of the now defunct Nigerian Mining Corporation. They strive to establish a new company that aligns with market principles, minimizing unnecessary interference, and incentivizing its officials to prioritize profitability and the growth of capital in the industry. He stated that the results of their efforts to combat illegal mining and encourage artisanal miners to establish co-operatives and gain government acknowledgment, assistance, and legal authorization for mining activities are becoming evident. As of now, there are a total of 2,329 officially registered artisanal miners co-operatives across the nation.
In the year 2023, we saw the registration of 123 new co-operatives. What is noteworthy is that out of these 123, 77 chose to register as a response to Alake’s call for collaboration with the Federal Government. The Ministry offers valuable assistance to these co-operatives through enhancing their proficiency in record-keeping and refining their drilling methodologies. He strongly encouraged artisanal miners to unite and officially establish themselves as co-operatives. In order to enhance the functioning of this particular subsector, the Ministry has granted licenses to 986 purchasing facilities throughout all 36 states in the Federation. Plateau, due to its extensive mining past, boasts an impressive number of 315 centres, closely trailed by the Federal Capital Territory with 224, and Lagos with 108.
Solid minerals sector holds immense possibilities — Alake.
According to him, steps are being taken to enhance the Nigerian Mining and Minerals Act 2007 in order to adapt it to the evolving circumstances and align it with the country’s overarching goals. Alake expressed that the ministry remains committed to assisting with the processing of permits for refining minerals and their subsequent purchase. In the previous year alone, a staggering number of 499 licenses were awarded to individuals engaged in the mineral trading industry. The demand for licenses to trade lithium dominated the market, gathering a total of 146 applications. Gold followed closely behind, with 91 requests, while tin and coal secured 46 and 32 licenses respectively. Additionally, various other minerals such as Tantalite, Iron Ore, Feldspar, Beryl, Columbite, Kaolin, baryte, Mica, and Aquamarine also received licenses.
Frank Aigbogun, publisher of BusinessDay Media Limited, shared an optimistic outlook during his speech, foreseeing a future where Nigeria’s solid minerals sector ascends to become an economic powerhouse equal in importance to crude oil. Without a doubt, he expressed certainty that the solid minerals sector holds immense possibilities. Nigeria has already witnessed some, and he firmly believes that further discoveries await Nigerians in the coming months and years. According to Charles Anosike, the head of NiMet (Nigerian Meteorological Agency), mines are frequently situated in unfavourable geographic and climatic areas, making them highly susceptible to weather fluctuations.
FG has initiated certain measures to address mining issues.
NiMet’s assistant general manager/public relations, Eleazer Obende, stated that mining operations are heavily influenced by weather conditions. These conditions not only pose risks to the safety of workers but also lead to significant disruptions in productivity. Anosike emphasized the need to address these challenges effectively. He commented on the increasing frequency of extreme events due to climate change, which poses challenges to mining safety, productivity, and profitability. Notably, he pointed out that the federal government has initiated certain measures addressing this issue. His statement emphasized the importance of providing investors with a sense of security, ensuring that established guidelines remain consistent throughout. Furthermore, he observed that the current situation lacks promising potential, as mining operations often proceed unnoticed by regulatory bodies, leading to a disregard for existing rules. Consequently, he emphasized the need for an upgraded regulatory framework.
Additionally, a critical aspect that cannot be overlooked is the essential requirement for community involvement and ethical commitment. Within any given area containing valuable mineral assets, it is imperative that investors fully grasp the significance of not only investing monetarily but also actively engaging with the local population. This entails providing employment opportunities to the community members and fulfilling their rights to receive fair compensation for utilizing their land. Failure to address these concerns may greatly provoke the community’s sentiment of exploitation, potentially leading to armed retaliation. Proper execution of mining is of utmost significance, emphasizing the need for sincere community involvement.
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Simultaneously, it is crucial to safeguard the environment against any detrimental effects or deterioration caused by mining operations. According to Malami Uba Saidu, who holds the position of president at the Geological Society of Nigeria, an urgent requirement within the sector is an increased number of expert consultants as a considerable proportion of trained miners have abandoned their profession in favour of alternative employment opportunities. The sector faces a significant deficiency in human resources, which we are committed to addressing head-on. In various regions, we have witnessed the presence of institutions and examinations that validate qualifications and expertise. They adhere to acceptable standards and utilize templates when importing minerals, he explained.