Abuja — Two firms allegedly involved in illegal mining have taken out of the country, over the years, minerals worth over N100 billion.
The illegal mining companies, Solid Unit Limited and Geotess Nigeria Limited were shut in Zurak, Wase in Plateau State last month.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, disclosed in Abuja, that 16 Chinese nationals and eight Nigerians involved in illegal mining were arrested in Zurak, by the government operatives.
He said illegal mining by the two companies was tantamount to economic terrorism, adding that government was determined to confront anyone or group sabotaging the economy through illegal mining and other means.
To him, Nigerians have been in active connivance with foreigners to carry out massive illegal mining thereby depriving the country of revenue. Their unwholesome activities have also led to environmental degradation and abandoned mine pits.
The minister said his ministry would adopt its own whistle blowing arrangement in order to encourage more information on illegal mining activities, and would continue to guide and provide both technical and financial supports to genuine artisanal and small-scale miners.
Meanwhile, the minister is leading the Nigerian delegation to the Africa Down Under (ADU) conference, scheduled for Perth, Australia, from September 6-8, 2017.
He will also deliver a paper on "Mining for Shared Prosperity: Why Nigeria, Why Now" on the opening session of the conference which is renowned as one of the leading fora for facilitating discussions on how to grow investments and participation in the African mining space.
According to a statement by the ministry, Nigeria's participation at this year's conference is expected to signal to the international mining community, the country's economic policy priorities which focus on the diversification of Nigeria's revenue base by re-positioning the mining sector for greater productivity. The Minister is expected to provide an update on the mineral among other issues, during the conference.
Nigeria was a major focus at the 2016 conference following the discovery, by an Australian firm, of a huge deposit of Nickel in Kaduna State.