The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has announced plans to establish a mining surveillance task force to checkmate illegal mining activities in the country as well as revenue leakage.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Solid Minerals and Steel Development, Bwari Abubakar, who was represented his Special Assistant, Davies Olapade at the Nigeria Mining business investment summit organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), said the Ministry is doing a lot to block revenue leakages by paying close look at the borders to curb illegal mining activities.
He stressed that it has collaborated with the Nigerian Customs Service and Ministry of Internal Affairs to ensure that the minerals are not smuggled out of the country.
"We have also trained the custom officials on how to identify the minerals while also providing equipment to detect minerals that are being smuggled," he added.
He noted that plans are also ongoing to organise miners under a cooperative to provide access to loans and equipment.
In his words, "We are also setting up cooperatives for the miners because some of them do not have money to pay for the mining license. By putting them under one umbrella would give us the opportunity to support them by way of loans and equipment.
He said the federal government has also set up the National Integrated Exploration programme to comb the nooks and crannies in a bid to identify solid minerals that would change the country's focus away from oil.
"With the programme, more emphasis on where these resources can be found and harnessing these resources would encourage investors to come into the mining space to add value for economic growth," he said.
Earlier, the president, LCCI, Babatunde Ruwase, said the summit is critical at this point due to the nation's economic diversification aspirations.
He lamented that the sector is still largely underdeveloped despite the abundance of mineral deposits in the country.
He said in 2018, the sector contributed approximately 0.30 per cent to Gross Domestic Products , stressing that the contribution is a sharp contrast to the historical higher percentages recorded in the 70s of about 4 to 5 per cent.
He stated that the sector contribution of 0.3 per cent to national employment and 0.02 per cent to exports underscore the fact that the potentials of the sector for national development and wealth creation have not been harnessed.
He also bemoaned the existing fiscal framework for investors in the mining sector, adding that the fiscal framework is not friendly enough and does not consider the peculiar nature of the sector.
"Particularly, its long gestation period. Therefore, Nigeria will need to revisit the entire fiscal framework for the taxation of mining operation, in order to attract mining majors and foreign investors.
He also identified the multi-agency regulatory structure in the sector as unnecessary bottlenecks and duplication of functions, recommending that the activities of the regulatory agencies be streamlined to foster efficiency to boost investors' confidence.