Senate urges FG to investigate $9billion annual loss to illegal mineral mining, smuggling

The Senate has urged the executive arm of government to investigate the alleged annual revenue loss of $9bn to illegal mining and smuggling of gold in Nigeria.

The upper chamber urged the federal government to intensify efforts to combat illegal mining and block all revenue leakages from such clandestine activities as well as establish gold mining farms to assist artisans and miners.

It also mandated its Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development, and Metallurgy to investigate all illegal mining and revenue leakages associated with the activities.

The resolutions were sequel to a motion sponsored by the Senate Chief Whip and former Abia State governor, Orji Uzor Kalu during plenary.

Kalu, while presenting the motion, noted that “Nigeria lost close to $54bn from 2012-2018 due to illegal smuggling of gold.”

He added, “The country is said to be losing about $9bn yearly to illegal mining and gold exportation, a huge amount of money unaccounted for through under the radar sales of the expensive commodity.”

The Abia North senator added that “the activities of unlicensed miners were becoming prevalent within the industry and the incessant smuggling of solid minerals out of the country by middlemen and smugglers, is leading to loss of government revenue.”

He said gold mining operations in the country is capable of providing over 250, 000 jobs and over $500m annually in royalties and taxes to the federal government and as mineral resources.

This, he explained would further help in diversifying the nation’s economy and improve its foreign exchange reserve.

He said, “Given our current estimated gold reserves of over 200million ounces, most of which have not been exploited, developing sustainable programmes that will catalyse increased investment in the extraction and refining of gold sourced from mines in Nigeria, is indeed vital.”

He said data from the Ministry of Solid Minerals and Steel Development indicated that there are gold deposits in Abuja, Abia, Bauchi, Cross River, Edo, Niger, Sokoto, Kebbi, Oyo, Kogi, Zamfara, Osun and Kaduna states.

He said that Section 44(3) of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Law of 1999 provides that ownership and control of all minerals is vested in the federal government, which is mandated to manage such natural resources in a manner as may be prescribed by the National Assembly.

In his contribution, Senator Smart Adeyemi, also stressed the need for government to seal up illegal mining activities, noting that it added it to the insecurity challenges facing the country “because most of the miners are foreigners.”

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