Senate seeks probe of $9bn annual revenue loss to illegal mining

Senate Thursday charged the executive arm of government to investigate the alleged annual revenue loss of $9billion to illegal mining and smuggling of gold in Nigeria.

Specifically, the upper legislative 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.

These resolutions were  sequel to a motion sponsored by the Senate Chief Whip and former Abia State governor, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, during plenary.
Senator Kalu, while presenting the motion, noted that “Nigeria lost close to $54billion from 2012-2018 due to illegal smuggling of gold”, stressing that “the country is said to be losing about $9billion 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.”
According to him, gold mining operations in the country is capable of providing over 250, 000 jobs and over $500million 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.
“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.

While quoting data from the Ministry of Solid Minerals and Steel Development of 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 (APC Kogi West), also stressed the need for government to seal up illegal mining activities, adding that it added to the insecurity challenges facing the country “because most of the miners are foreigners.”

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