20 March 2017, Sweetcrude, Lagos – The Nigerian government says it will soon become an offence for anyone to take unprocessed minerals out of the country.
Speaking in Abuja at a town hall meeting with stakeholders in the mining sector, Minister ofMines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said the Federal Government was working towards ensuring that those who take unprocessed minerals through illegal routes out of Nigeria would be punished.
He said the activities of some foreigners who take out unprocessed minerals had robbed the youth of the country of massive job opportunities in addition to denying the nation valuable income that ought to come from the sector.
“Government is taking the security of mines more seriously, and a special task force has been put in place to check nefarious activities in mining sites and also to ensure compliance with environmental and security regulations,” the minister said.
Unauthorised export of unprocessed minerals is injurious to the economic plan of the government, he also said, disclosing that his ministry was focusing on ensuring that operators set up plants in the country, process the minerals and then export the finished product.
He said: “Taking out unprocessed minerals under any guise is unacceptable and we have taken a firm position on this. We will make it difficult for anybody to take out unprocessed minerals. We are working with the Customs and other relevant security agencies to put an end to this.
“We will support and encourage operators to set up plants, process the minerals here and you can then export it. The economic diversification and employment generation can only be realised with operators cooperating with government on the mining policy”.
The minister maintained that Nigeria had one of the best set of mining laws, but noted that enforcement had been a challenge and that criminally-minded individuals had taken advantage of poor enforcement to enrich themselves at the detriment of the nation.
To help address issue of security in the sector, he said the Nigerian Police has started setting up Mines Division in all its state commands.