BY GABRIEL EWEPU
MINNA- THE Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, MMSD, had discovered a haven of illegal gold miners in Mailumba- Garin Gabas, Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State, where they make brisk business form the illicit trade.
The illegal miners were discovered by a Special Ministerial Taskforce Team led by Engr. Frank Odoom, of the Department of Mines Inspectorate in the ministry. The illegal mining site had been a beehive of social and economic activities as over 1, 000 artisanal miners were neck-dipped in the business.
Odoom ordered the closure of the mining site, and directed those found at the site to formalise their operation with the Department of Artisanal and Small-scale Miners, whereby they can be recognised as a cooperative for the ministry’s assistance.
Odoom said: “These are illegal gold miners, who are doing the wrong thing as you can see, and are contravening the Minerals and Mining Act of 2007 and Mining Regulations 2011.
“It is a success story of the Department of Mines Inspectorate. We are here to sensitise them about the hazards they are posing to the environment and to their own health. And to let them know that it was criminal to carry out such activity.
“They are to stop mining immediately until they form a cooperative and are registered with the Department of Artisanal and Small-scale Miners. Security officials will be drafted to effect the closure.
“We cannot allow them to continue because we do not want the reoccurrence of what happened in Zamfara State here. The method of process the gold is very crude, as they are using the dry processing method, which was the same with the Zamfara illegal miners that caused the death of many people.”
He also said that red alert will be placed on whoever is the sponsor of the illegal miners in order to discourage the trend in Niger State, as there were over 30 other sites reported in the state.
Two of the miners, Mohammed Sani and Haruna Dankano, said that they were happy about the visit and expressed the readiness of their colleagues to formalize their operations in line with the 2007 Minerals and Mining Act , and the 2011 Mining Regulations of the sector.
They also revealed that they had some persons who provide them with money to buy milling machines and other crude tools for their operations. A gram of gold was sold for N5, 000 at a black market where they sell their commodity, and exchange for chemicals for processing.