2 million Nigerians dependent on ASM

Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Hon. Abubakar Bwari has revealed that 90 percent of the country’s mineral production is been carried out by mostly poor and unemployed who formed the Artisanal and Small smScale Miners (ASM).
According to him the figures of these miners have greatly increased to two million people whose livelihood depend on the activities of ASM.
The Minister of State made this revelation at the first National St a k e h o l d e r s’ D i s c o u r s e o n Opportunities and Challenges of Artisanal Mining in Nigeria in Abuja, Monday.
(ASM) are found mining precious minerals like gold, silver, cassiterite, coltan, lead/zinc, sapphire, emerald etc.
“This stakeholders forum comes at a time when the activities of artisanal miners globally has reached unprecedented scale.
According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development (2018), close to 50 million people are now engaged in artisanal mining globally.
“With the renewed interest in mining brought about by the current administration’s diversification efforts, at least two million people in Nigeria are now directly or indirectly dependant on ASM for their livelihood.
“Most of them are poor and unemployed, living in rural areas and employing crude methods and household implements to exploit these minerals which they sell to feed their families.
“Yet at this stage in our development, these are the people responsible for 90 percent of the country’s mineral production.
They are mostly to be found mining precious minerals like gold, silver, cassiterite, coltan, lead/ zinc, sapphire, emerald, tourmaline, aquamarine, gypsum, barytes, silica sand, granite, sandstones, clay, salt, etc.
He added that while their activities are detrimental to the good of the people and environment of the mine site, government cannot completely banish them.
“Therefore, while we cannot afford to criminalize their activities wholesale, we also cannot fold our arms and watch as the damage to the lives of our people and the environment continue unabated.
He explained that “some of the environmental problems arising from ASM operations are: lead poisoning, mercury pollution, land/ soil degradation, deforestation, poor sanitation, degradation of river banks, and heavy metals pollution.
Bwari emphasized that the use of inappropriate mining methods and unwholesome mineral ore processing techniques impact dangerously on public health as they expose the general populace to heavy metal pollution and outbreak of infectious diseases such as cholera, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases and drug abuse.
However, Permanent Secretary MMSD Dr. Abdulkadir Muazu stated that the government is working to ensure a robust artisanal sector in the country.
He said, “Amidst the difficult regulatory challenges, government is assiduously working to enthrone a vibrant and robust ASM sector in Nigeria.
“This forum is therefore germane to our effort to properly organize the ASM such that, miners can earn decent living; communities can benefit from exploitation of mineral resources in their domains without bearing huge external costs; and government can earn corresponding revenues from the sector.
He therefore urged the participants to commit every effort towards ensuring that the purpose of the event is accomplished.”

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