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.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Solid Minerals and Steel Development, Bwari Abubakar, explained that the task force would be made up of all security agencies in each state, to comb the entire country and identify those in the business of illegal mining.
The Minister who was represented by 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 was doing a lot to block revenue leakages, stressing that it recently collaborated with the Nigeria 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 were also ongoing to organise miners under a cooperative to provide access to loans and equipment.
"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 added.
He said the federal government has also set up the National Integrated Exploration programme to identify solid minerals that would support the government's quest for economic diversification.
"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 was critical due to the nation's economic diversification aspiration.
He lamented that the sector was 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 was a sharp contrast to the historical higher percentages recorded in the 70s.
He stated that the sector contribution of 0.3 per cent to national employment and 0.02 per cent to exports underscored the fact that the potential 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, saying it was 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."