The Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has advised unregistered miners to get mineral titles from the ministry to legalise their mining activities and access grants to boost their mining activities.
Mr. Sallim Abdulsalaam, Director, Mines Environmental Compliance, in the ministry, stated this in an interview with newsmen in Lafia on Wednesday, during a sensitisation programme held for mineral title holders in Nasarawa State.
Abdulsalaam said that obtaining a mineral title from the ministry legalises and streamlines the activities of miners across the country.
According to him, this acknowledges them as legitimate miners and grants them the privilege to seek support from the Federal Government in terms of grants to boost their activities.
“I appeal to local miners to shun the idea of going into mining without mineral titles. We have offices across the states of the federation where they can get mineral titles. For those who are artisans, they can form cooperatives, come together and the government can assist them with grants to take off.
“What the ministry is doing is to raise the artisans from a low level to a middle level and to a larger level mining. They should take advantage of that. We have money already domiciled at African Bank of Industry that they can access and the money is still there.
“But illegal operators or those who are not known by law cannot enjoy this opportunity and many others. So I advise miners to do things the right way.
”When miners are duly registered and have mineral titles and follow regulations, more investors will be attracted to invest in the mining sector due to the assurances that they will deal with legitimate miners who are registered, trusted and are highly skilled.”
He said that the essence of the sensitisation programme was to create awareness for local miners in the state to know what they were supposed to know with regards to the requirement of the law.
“Some debase the environment not because they know. Sometimes they don’t know the implications of what they do or the effect of the emission they introduce into the environment. We have seen the effect of climate change largely caused by mining activities, either knowingly or unknowingly.
“So, what we are doing is to sensitise them to know that every action has a positive or negative impact. Where there is positive impact, we are happy. Where there is a negative impact, we need to check and be able to mitigate properly. One of the first steps is advocating for proper training and registration,” he said.
In his speech, Mr. Wuduyamba Agidi, Nasarawa State Commissioner of Environment and Solid Minerals, said that there were about 300 mineral titles covering the state, aside from numerous artisanal and illegal miners.
He revealed that most mineral title holders and other categories of miners in the state were yet to pay the required revenue on mining activities
in line with the Nasarawa State Legal Notice No. 6 of 2018 on a collection of mining fees for the state government.
“In the same vein, reports from the federal mines office, Lafia indicate that several mining operators in the state are not remitting royalties on mineral resources being produced in the state as expected. These negative postures have affected the state adversely,” he said.
He said that mining activities carried out, especially by illegal and artisanal miners, have caused serious damage to vegetation, soil, water, ecology, farmlands, and crops.
“Unregulated mining activities in different parts of the state have led to deaths of several people without feasible steps taken by the operators to forestall future reoccurrence.
“For instance, it is on record that many lives were lost in the state in the course of mining tin ore, columbite, gemstones in Udege Mbeki, Gidan Kwano, Rafin Gabas, Wakama hill and Farin Ruwa in Nasarawa, Kokona, Nasarawa Eggon, and Wamba local government areas respectively, at various times,” he said.
He said that the state government would continue to sensitise stakeholders on the need to adhere to various provisions of Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act (NMMA) 2007, especially in areas bordering on health, safety and environmental hazards during mining operations.
Mr. Henry ThankGod, a local miner representing Afako Synergy Resources Nigeria Ltd, said that the sensitisation had impacted positively on him, especially on the need to follow laid down regulations guiding activities in the mining sector.