By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA-House of Representatives yesterday urged the federal government to make gold mining one of the major sources of revenue for the country.
To this end, the House urged the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development to provide geological records of gold deposits in the country.
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Resolution to that effect was reached at the plenary after the House considered and adopted a motion tagged “Need to Prioritize Gold Mining as one of the Major Earners of Revenue to the Nation” moved by Rep. Oghene Emma Egoh.
Egoh while moving the motion said that Nigeria has lost billion of Naira to illegal miners in Zamfara State where gold is found in commercial quantity.
He called for the setting up of a supervisory and regulatory body in charge of mineral exploration operations in the nation.
He stated that it has become clear that revenues from oil cannot take care of all the sectoral needs in Nigeria, hence the urgent need for the economic diversification.
He said: “The House recalls that on 7 April 2019, the Federal Government banned all mining activities in Zamfara State and directed all foreigners operating in the mining fields to leave within 48 hours, threatening to revoke the license of any recalcitrant mining operator;
“Aware that Nigeria has about 21.40 tons of gold deposits and therefore there is the need for many large scale gold mining companies, gold mining policies, state of the art geological survey, including map production and maintenance of up to date geological records, health and safety inspections and maintenance records, legal records of licences and legal examination of new applications, among others;
“Also recalls a publication in This Day Newspaper that Nigeria loses about $9 billion (nine billion dollars) to illegal mining every year and that many lives are lost as a result of mining activities that ignore environmental protection policies;
“Also aware of official records that mining in Nigeria accounts for a mere 0.3% of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP), meaning that the Federal Government may not have official records of the number of mineral deposits in Nigeria which if ascertained, could make the mineral sector one of the largest contributors to Government’s revenues through the payment of royalties, employees income taxes and corporate taxes;
“Concerned that though Gold is found in large quantities in Zamfara State, illegal miners cart away billions of dollars’ worth of gold yearly, leaving the State with a a poor state of education and an inadequate healthcare system;
“Acknowledges that if the resources are effectively managed by the Government, 30% derivation from gold earnings can go a long way in boosting the economy of Zamfara State while the remaining 70% can go into the federation account;
“Desirous of the need for the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, whose responsibilities are to promote full-scale gold mining in Nigeria, facilitate interaction between mining employers, examine mining policy issues, create partnerships with key stakeholders and to come up with modernized and conducive policies, legislative and functional environment to facilitate real investments in gold mining”.
Contributing to the debate, Rep. Ahmadu Jaha from Borno State reiterated the need to diversify the Nigerian economy to boost employment and wealth creation which he said would ensure that the youth are gainfully engaged and not available to be used as pawns of violence.
Rep. Yakubu Barde from Kaduna State called for financial empowerment of those willing to participate in the mining sector by the government through the provision of capital and investment.
According to him, Nigeria would benefit immensely from these resources which have been left in the hands of illegal miners.
Rep. Ndudi Elumelu from Delta State said that the motion will ensure every state engages in maximizing their potentials for their immediate benefits and more national development.
Rep. Mohammed Tahir Monguno from Borno State however reminded members that for the motion to see the light of day; there was the need to amend the constitution so that mining is removed from the executive list to the concurrent list for states to become active participants in developing their resources.
The motion was eventually adopted and committed to the Committee on Solid Minerals Development to ensure compliance.