16 March 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Even as the Federal government makes efforts to diversify its economy from the oil and gas sector, the House of Representatives yesterday initiated a probe into why the nation’s earnings from the solid minerals sector is a paltry N31.449billion annually when, according to several reports, it could actually earn as much as N50 trillion.
The House has therefore mandated its Committee on Solid Minerals Development to invite all stakeholders involved in the process of mapping, licensing, mining and exportation of solid minerals in order to determine the extent of compliance with the Mining Act, 2007.
The House’s resolution followed the adoption of the prayers of a member, Hon. Lovette Ederin Idisi entitled: “Call for an End to the Violation of the Mining Act of 2007 by Mining Companies, Individuals and Regulatory Bodies.”
According to the House, the Committee should also determine the number of licensed miners against the number of unlicensed miners and the number of prosecutions, if any, and convictions secured with regard to the violations of the Act.
The committee will again ascertain the data and value of exploited and exported solid minerals and where they are located, and report back to the House within four weeks for further legislative action.
While moving the motion, on the floor of the House, Idisi said “illegal mining and exportation of gold and barites are going on in the country in clear violation of Section 7 of the Act, which requires any person wishing to export solid minerals to obtain a permit.”
He noted that the Mining Act of 2007 which repealed the Minerals and Mining Act No. 34 of 1999, prohibits unauthorised exploration/exploitation of solid minerals in the country and vests on the Federal Government, the responsibility of implementing the provisions of the Act by creating an enabling environment for the exploration, exploitation and sustainable development of these resources for the benefit of the nation.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government said it is currently focused on ensuring that the solid minerals sector improves its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country, from 0.3 percent to at least 10 percent in the near future.
To achieve this, the government will reposition the solid minerals sector to meet its plan to diversify the economy and create employment through the sector.
Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said a lot of innovations are being put in place to overcome all the blockages that could hinder the attainment of the goal.
Fayemi who spoke yesterday while delivering a keynote address at the 52nd Conference of the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society (NMGS) in Ilorin, Kwara State, said the industry has great opportunities for diversification and linkages to the development of other sectors of the economy.
In a statement from Fayemi’s Special Assistant on Media, Yinka Oyebode, the Minister noted that “We strongly believe that the only way minerals development can be sustainable is through economic linkages. We shall promote the development of industrial minerals and encourage downstream linkages leading to the processing of these minerals for our local industries.”
According to Fayemi, the minerals industry has great opportunities for diversification and linkages to the development of other sectors of the Nigerian economy.
he said, “It is, therefore, our determination to evolve policies and programmes that are predicated on understanding the existing opportunities in the nation geology, beneficiation and value addition of minerals produced and how these minerals can be translated to an inclusive growth of our economy. We strongly believe that the only way minerals development can be sustainable is through economic linkages.
“We shall promote the development of industrial minerals and encourage downstream linkages leading to the processing of these minerals for our local industries. It is expected that huge foreign exchange will
be conserved through import substitution; jobs will be created, technological capacity will improve and there shall be an increase in resource rents.
“We shall concentrate on developing minerals that are critical feedstock in oil and gas, agriculture, manufacturing and infrastructure,” the Minister added.