The Federal Government, through the Ministry of Solid Minerals, plans to establish a Solid Minerals Corporation, which will be a state-backed company, to manage its minerals and provide funding in the mining sector.
In a statement on Sunday by Deputy Director of Press in the Ministry, Alaba Balogun, the minister, Mr Dele Alake, lamented the lack of access to funding for mining operators during the unveiling of the ‘Agenda for the Transformation of the Solid Minerals for International Competitiveness and Domestic Prosperity’, in Abuja on Sunday.
The new company, according to the minister, is strategic in helping the country revive the mining sector.
Alake said, “Mining is big business. Nigeria must assert its presence in this environment by replicating its strategic positioning in the petroleum sector by setting up a corporate body that plays in this field. Consequently, the Ministry shall work towards the incorporation of the Nigerian Solid Minerals Corporation.”
The statement added the company would have subsidiaries doing business in the seven priority areas that require immediate intervention, which include gold, coal, limestone, bitumen, lead, iron ore, and baryte.
Nigeria has similar companies like the National Iron-Ore Company, which the minister said would be reviewed, alongside the Bitumen Concessioning Programme.
On the new company, the minister added, “The proposed corporation will seek and secure partnership investment agreements with big multinational companies worldwide to leverage on the attractive investment-friendly regime operating in the country to secure massive Foreign Direct Investment for the mining sector. The positioning of the national corporation as a guarantor and protector of the partnership agreements is expected to assure partners of our seriousness and fidelity.
Alake also directed that all miners engaged in the illegal extraction of mineral resources in the country an ultimatum of 30 days to join notable mining cooperatives or face the full wrath of the law
This was even as the minister unveilled a plan to set up a surveillance task force that would include policemen and other relevant agencies to secure the mines in the country.
While announcing that the 30-day ultimatum to miners and plan to introduce security operatives were parts of his transformation agenda, the minister told newsmen that he was baffled that a country with precious minerals like gold, bitumen, lithium, and uranium in massive proportions could fail to use the resources to liberate its citizens.
He said, “I am giving illegal miners in this country just 30 days grace to join cooperatives or find another vocation. Also, the proposed task force will be domiciled in the ministry and will comprise operatives of all the relevant security agencies.
“For the last time, let me declare again that the ministry is giving such persons 30 days grace to join a miners’ co-operative or find another vocation to do. On the expiration of the period, the full weight of the law will fall on anyone seen on a mining site without a determinable status. This message will be interpreted into Nigerian languages and broadcast on the radio to ensure no one is ignorant of this directive.
“From October, a rejuvenated security regime will become active in the solid minerals sector. This will include the Mine Police, sourced from the Nigeria Police and specially trained to detect illegal mining and apprehend offenders. The new Mines Surveillance Security Task Force will coordinate the Mines Police and proactively address high-risk incidences of breach of Mining Laws. The Federal and State governments will also be encouraged to allocate the prosecution of cases against illegal miners to competent courts.”
On August 3, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Mary Ogbe, raised a similar alarm that illegal mining activities are disrupting the country’s $700 billion industry.
According to her, some of the minerals are often exported raw to Asian and European countries at ridiculous prices without value.