Niger State, the former breadbasket of Nigeria, is commonly known as a resource-rich territory and mining area. [Martin Zinggl|Al Jazeera]
Al Jazeera

The Presidential Committee on Special Mines Surveillance Task Force on illegal mining in Nigeria said the country loses billions of naira to foreigners annually due to illegal mining operations in the country.

Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Barr. Georgina Ekeoma Ehuriah, disclosed this on Monday while declaring open a capacity-building workshop for Members of the Presidential Special Mines Surveillance Task Force on illegal mining, held at the Nigeria Institute of Mining and Geosciences in Jos, the Plateau State capital.

“Illegal mining has posed a serious threat to the growth and development of Solid Minerals in Nigeria. Nigeria loses billions of Naira annually to illegal mining. It has been said that about 80 percent of Mining activities in Nigeria are illegally carried out,” the Permanent Secretary said.

“I admonish you to focus your drive on the illegal mining activities perpetrated by foreign operators. These operators will never engage in such activities in their own countries knowing it would deny their government of due revenue; as a result, you should not support them to in undermining our economy to [our] detriment.”

Barr. Ehuriah lamented that despite the establishment of the Surveillance Committee in 2012, illegal mining operations have surged in Ebonyi, Niger, Plateau, Oyo, Taraba and Zamfara, among other states.

She appreciated security agencies for the risks they take in law enforcement, urging them to remain focus in discharging their duties to end illegal mining in the country.

“We don’t have an idea of what Nigeria is losing annually because it is just recently that we started focusing on illegal export. Most of these illegal exports of illegal minerals goes on in our seaport and borders. As of September, N1.6 billion was paid to Government as royalties and over N43 billion was realized as tax as recorded by FIRS.”

Barr. Ehuriah said the Nigerian economy is on a downward trend and revenue generated from oil is no longer sufficient to run the country, saying that more effort should be made to stop illegal mining in order that government might generate sufficient revenue to run the country.

Speaking, Chairman, Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee, Plateau State, Sen. Davou Zang, kicked against the notion that mining oversight be handed to state governments.

He said government at all levels should harmonise payment of taxes by miners to avoid payment of multiple taxes to Federal, States and Local Government Areas.

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