Govs behind illegal mining in states – Minister

Minister of Mines and Solid  Mineral Development (MSMD), Olamilekan Adegbite and the Chairman, Senate committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy, Senator Tanko Almakura have accused governors of supporting theft of national resources through illegal mining.

Adegbite in an interactive session with the committee said the challenge of illegal mining was being supported by some state governors through provision of police escort while they are out on the field to illegally mine solid minerals in their domain.

The minister who was not specific said”You will find foreign nationals encouraged by our people without naming them, we have some State Government that are encouraging these nationals that we are talking about and that is why you see them with security.

“When they send them to go and do this yes they needed police. What do you expect a mining officer to do when the State Government is backing this illegal mining?” Adegbite asked.

He said as part of diversification of the economy, the federal government has turned its attention towards Rusaia to seek expertise in its renewed effort at fixing the Ajaokuta steel complex.

He said the Russians have assured of completing the project at their own cost but was still exploring a Joint Venture Cash calls (JVC) Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) or Build and Transfer (BT) to revive the steel complex which has not been running at its optimal capacity for over thirty years.

Responding to the issue of state government supporting illegal mining chairman Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy, and former governor Nasarawa state, Tanko Almakura said such governors are illegal miners themselves.

He advocated for a non-punitive approach  to resolving the matter which they both agreed is on the exclusive list of government restricting state direct development of the sector.

Almakura called on all stakeholders to evolve legal and structural measures to incorporate state government to participate  in solid minerals development.

“Why are they giving support to illegal miners? Now the simple response or answer to that is that they are helping illegal miners because they are illegal miners themselves.

” There is no where illegal mining can take place without the knowledge of the community; you cannot illegally mine mineral without the consent and the participation of the community.

“It then means that we must find ways, structurally and legally to encourage state government not to participate in illegal mining.

” That is only by carving a role for them. If you look at the law on mining it is on the exclusive list. There is need for us to come together, the Senate, the House of representatives the stakeholders and even practitioners in the industry to sit down and unbundle this to give every segment or every level of government some measures  of participation without usurping the exclusive legislative rights.

“I was a governor in Nasarawa state for eight years, in spite of all the hot air about Nasarawa being the home of solid minerals, I do not think Nasarawa sate government got   up to N100million  from solid minerals.

“You could see if LG and state government  are given a role, it will go a long way of giving them a sense of participation. We need everybody to be carried along. It is not something, that will look punitive but something that will cause collaboration and cooperation.

He urged the state government to be innovative and establish special purpose vehicles (SPV) to be active players in the value addition to the raw materials to create employment and boost internally generated revenue for themselves.

“We should also think about investing in the future. We cannot say because solid minerals is capital intensive, then we leave it to foreign entrepreneurs, why can’t government create funds avenues, factories that could yield value chain rather than the artisanal miners selling the raw materials at ridiculously cheap price “, he lamented .

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