02 March 2016, Abuja – Fllowing the menace of illegal mining activities in the solid minerals sector, the Federal Government has ordered perpetrators to become registered mining cooperatives or risk being regarded as criminals.
The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. KayodeFayemi, gave the warning during a working visit to mining sites in Niger State, where he addressed informal and artisanal miners in Kurukpa, in Chachangi Local Government Area of the state.
He said: “We are not here to criminalise you but to let you know that illegal mining is dangerous to health and the environment. We are ready to give you all the necessary support to ensure that you carry out your mining activities in a proper manner. “You can obtain your licence either as an individual or as a cooperative. The ministry officials will help you and ensure you get your licences to operate within the confines of laid down laws.
“After this, we shall clamp down on those doing illegal mining. We are not going to allow illegal mining to continue;we will bring it to an end.”
The Minister promised that the Federal Government would devise the means of assisting them with necessary equipment and financial support among others.
He said the ministry will begin the formalisation of illegal miners into a structure to enable them earn their livelihood in a safe environment and according to international standard.
Meanwhile, the Minister maintained that government will soon begin full scale revocation of dormant mining licences acquired by some owners, which will commence on March 1, 2016, and will be given to genuine and serious investors.
He said the era of idleness by mining licences owners is over under the “Use it or lose it” clause in the Minerals and Mining Act 2007, as the Ministry will soon publish the list of owners of the dormant mining licences.
Fayemi also frowned at the low level of usage of mining licences, where four of every five mining licences issued in the country remained unused, adding that most of the land that were allocated as mining sites to miners had been acquired illegally, and is not acceptable to the Ministry.
Speaking earlier, the Niger State Commissioner for Environment, Dr. AliyuTaguwagi, who accompanied the Minister on the visit, promised to assist the Ministry on the revocation of non-functional mining titles, while also appreciating the move to register mining cooperatives and abolishment of illegal mining in the state.
The Minister, who also paid a courtesy visit to the Niger State Governor, AlhajiAbubakarSani Bello, at the Government House, Minna, stressed the need for collaboration between the Federal Government and the states in order to give the states a sense of belonging in the mining sector in terms of job creation and revenue generation.
“If mining is to produce the right result, the states must be involved. So, we need to strike a balance between the owner of the land and owner of the mineral resources underneath the land,” he said.
Speaking on the minister’s proposal for the formation of mining cooperatives, the Emir of Minna, Alhaji Farouk Bahago, who received the minister’s entourage, in his palace also called for funding assistance and provision of standard.