The Federal Government, Tuesday, said it has drawn up a programme that would grow the country's take from mining operations across the country, thereby boosting the revenue base of the country.
Speaking in Abuja, at a roundtable session at the 25th Nigerian Economic Summit, NES, Minister for Mines and Steel Development, Architect Olamilekan Adegbite, disclosed that the Federal Government was considering engaging young graduates, training them and assigning them to the field to help in monitoring volume of minerals evacuated at different mining sites and the amount of revenue due to the government.
He noted that federal mining officers in some states of the federation only have a few staff and they are expected to monitor mining activities across the whole state.
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He said, "For instance in Ogun State, which is the quarry capital of the country, people are there engaging in quarrying, breaking stones and all that. The government is supposed to receive royalty from this. It is supposed to monitor the volume going out. The minerals are loaded in 30 tonnes trucks. For every 30 tonnes truck that goes out, government is supposed to receive certain amount of royalties. But then there is discrepancies in how much that is going out.
"We also realise that the rules are in place, what is required is monitoring and enforcement. We are now proposing something, which is we could get young graduates, send them to get certain experience, we pay them minimum wage and we assign like about 20 to every mine officer and they can monitor, thereby generating more revenue for the government. That is what we are thinking, it is not crystallised yet."
He further stated that the Federal Government was working on harmonising and creating a linkage among the three critical agencies in the Nigerian mining industry, the Mining Cadastre Office, the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency, NGSA and the Mining Inspectorate.
He said the Federal Government was digitalising all its operations in the Cadastre Office and the NGSA to allow real-time monitoring from anywhere in the world, of licence holders, activities of each miner across the country.
"Just from your computer, you can see the operations of the Mining Cadastre Office, MCO, you can see what areas are free if you want to invest and what areas are already taken by licences. By the time we conclude all these, all our operations would be opened and everyone can see them anywhere in the world," he explained.
He noted that presently, key mining agencies, MCO, NGSA and the Mining Inspectorate, are working in silos, with different offices scattered Abuja.
He said, "We are trying to have linkages now, and possibly form a coalition. The three of them would be in the same office. What the law says now is that if you get licence from MCO, you are supposed to go to the Mining Inspectorate to inform them. But we normally have some lapses, some people do not report to the Mining Inspectorate, hence it is not aware some people have gotten new licences, so it cannot monitor those people.
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"We are trying to address that issue, but in the interim, we are building linkages, so we can see pictures if operations so as to promote monitoring."
He noted that the Federal Government was strengthening it's monitoring processes, especially in ensuring that mining firms restore the environment after they have finished exploration activities, while he added that operators must henceforth, get the buy-in of the communities where they intend to operate, noting that this would determine if licenses would be granted them, going further.