The Senate on Monday will commence a three-day public hearing on illegal mining and gold smuggling and the attendant losses of about $9 billion yearly to Nigeria.
The hearing is sequel to a motion moved by Abia North Senator and Chief Whip of the Senate, Orji Uzor Kalu.
Former Nasarawa Governor and Chairman, Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy, Tanko Al-Makura, is expected to preside over the legislative activity.
The Senate would during the hearing grill major government and non-governmental stakeholders in the mining sector over the prevalence of clandestine activities of illegal miners.
According to a notice signed by Al-Makura, the committee extended invitations to state governors; Central Bank of Nigeria; ministers of Mines and Steel Development; Finance and Budget; Mines and Steel Development; DGs/CEOs of parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development; Executive Secretary NEITI; Nigeria Labour Congress, Nigeria Immigration, among others.
The senate at its plenary last year had passed a resolution to investigate the losses from illegal mining activities.
Kalu in his motion, disclosed that Nigeria lost an estimated $54 billion from 2012 to 2018 due to illegal smuggling of gold. He also said the country was losing about $9 billion yearly to illegal mining and gold exportation. He lamented the activities of unlicensed miners and incessant smuggling of the solid minerals out of the country by middlemen given the huge revenue losses.
The former Abia governor said gold mining operations in Nigeria was capable of providing no fewer than 250,000 jobs and over $500 million dollars annually in royalties and taxes to the Federal Government.
He said jobs and revenues accruing to the mining sector would further diversify the nation’s economy and improve its foreign exchange reserve. He said due to Nigeria’s current estimated gold reserves of over 200million ounces, most of which have not been exploited, developing sustainable programmes that would catalyse increased investment in the extraction and refining of gold sourced from mines in Nigeria, was vital.
Making reference to data obtained from the Ministry of Solid Minerals and Development, Kalu revealed that there were gold deposits in Federal Capital Territory Abuja, Abia, Bauchi, Cross River, Edo, Niger, Sokoto, Kebbi, Oyo, Kogi, Zamfara, Osun and Kaduna states.
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Kalu argued that if the country conserves her gold reserves, and ensures effective exploitation, the accruing revenue would surpass that of oil and gas.
He drew the attention of the senate to section 44 (3) of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Law of 1999 which provides that ownership and control of all minerals in Nigeria 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.
Acting on Kalu’s motion , the Senate in its resolutions mandated it’s Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines , Steel Development and Metallurgy to investigate and launch an investigation on the matter and report back to the Senate.
Other matters scheduled for the three day public hearing include bills on Nigerian Minerals Development Corporation (Establishment) Bill 2021 (SB.505; Solid Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission (Establishment) Bill 2021 (SB.713); and Institute of Bitumen Management (Establishment) Bill 2021 (SB.663).
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