Nigeria is putting an end to illegal mining to help operators maximize their potential

Nigeria looks to end illegal mining in the country to restore sanity in the industry and spur growth that will be visible in the mining industry’s contribution to the country’s national development.

According to Sani Shehu, the president of the Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN), putting an end to illegal mining will help operators maximize their potential and further compete with their colleagues in other climes. He added that people are afraid of investing in the sector because they are not sure of getting returns on their investments.

As the West African nation works towards diversifying its economy and reduce its total dependency on oil, the decision by the government to clampdown on erring operators in the solid minerals sector is timely.

“We are going to see more clampdowns on illegal mining activities by the Federal Government this year, following their arrest and prosecution of local and foreign illegal miners last year,” Shehu said. “The action is in line with the Mining and Minerals Act. We want the government to also apply the carrot and then the stick approach as being taught in management studies.”

The mining of minerals in Nigeria accounts for only 0.3 percent of its GDP due to the influence of its vast oil resources. The domestic mining industry is underdeveloped and illegally mined, therefore Nigeria has to import minerals it could produce domestically, such as salt or iron ore.

In 2017, the Nigerian government lamented that it lost about $9 billion in two years on illegal mining particularly on gold exportation.  “Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has released its report and that report made it clear that in 2014 and 2015, what we lost to illegal mining operation was somewhere in the region of about $9 billion particularly from gold illegal exportation,” said Minister of Mines and Steel Development Kayode Fayemi last year. “There were other things that were illegally taken out: lead, zinc, tin and coal.”