By Gabriel Ewepu
THE Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Architect Olamilekan Adegbite, has stated that 1, 759 illegal mining sites have been uncovered across the country.
Adegbite made this known at the 3rd National Council on Mining and Minerals Resources Development, NCMMRD, meeting in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, with theme, ‘Nigeria minerals and metal sector: spectrum for investment opportunities for economic growth and development’.
He said: “A total number of 1,759 Artisanal and Small Scale Miners, ASM, sites have so far been identified across Nigeria. With consistent interventions by the Federal Government through the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development 1,346, artisanal mining operators have been drawn into forming registered Artisanal Mining Cooperatives, AMCs, in readiness to access SmalI-scale Mining Licenses, SML.
“Each of the 1,346 mining cooperatives comprises over 10 members; with additional 20 mine workers for each cooperative.
“It is a continuous process from the operators who have been organised into groups, they can come forward and apply for loans, it is not for us to go out and distribute money, everyone is aware that the money exists, people should come up with plans, cooperative bodies that are fully registered will be able to serve as guarantors to individuals. Ones the artisanal sites have been discovered like we did, we can approach them and teach them safer methods of mining.”
The Minister also said that mining host communities are receiving attention in terms of development through Community Development Agreements, CDAs, as contained in the Minerals and Mining Act 2007.
“In addition, the Ministry has continued to ensure that host communities to mining activities receive the socio-economic benefits of such ventures through the Community Development Agreements in line with the provisions of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007.”
He added: “To facilitate this, the ministry produced guidelines for the provision of CDA in the mining sector. So far, through the community projects more than 250 mining communities have benefited from rural road infrastructural facilities, borehole projects, class rooms, scholarship programmes as a result of mining operations within their areas.”