The Federal Government plans to establish solid mineral processing hubs in the six geopolitical zones of the country.
While speaking at the 2020 Nigeria Mining Week, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, said the hubs would be cited close to the locations of artisanal miners.
He made this known while addressing the topic ‘Formalizing Artisanal and small scale mining: The urgent need to formulate adequate policies’.
According to him, the ministry will consult with artisanal miner groups to understand their needs and reach a consensus on the type of processing hub they require.
“We have some interventions around mining on a regional basis. We are looking at bringing a processing center for the artisanal miners in a particular region.
“There will be hubs in the six geopolitical zones across the country. We will consult with them before deciding on the kind of processing center they will need.”
He noted that small scale mining in Nigeria constituted between 85 per cent and 90 per cent of the mining activities in the country.
He stated that artisanal miners needed to be encouraged to create employment and wealth for the country.
Rather than classifying them as illegal, the minister said it would be better to bring them together and provide incentives for them to thrive.
He said, ”At the ministry, we have established a remote sensing station and we are working with the satellite companies to identify areas where artisanal mining is going on.
“When that is done, we send out foot soldiers with hand held equipment, identify them, take their metrics and engage them on the benefits they will derive if they come together as a group.”
Adegbite said the government had been able to create 400 groups of artisanal miners and was making funding opportunities available to them.
“A lot of artisanal miners can’t access these funds because of the conditions. What they need now is just a guarantor to access the money and pay within a period of six months,” he said.
The Executive Secretary, Solid Minerals Development Fund, Hajia Fatima Shinkafi, stated that most artisanal miners were farmers who look for extra income in the off-farming season from mining activities in order to earn a living.
She expressed support for initiatives that aimed to equip miners with safe guides and bring them into the regulatory framework by licensing them and opening bank accounts for them.
She said, “Formalization is not an easy task. It is not profitable and not what a private sector investor will find appealing. It needs a multiple pronged approach and there should be a collaborative effort and huge politically will from all stakeholders involved.”
Also speaking, the Managing Director, Nivek Mining, Kevin Joseph, said safety, environment, trust, care and excellence were important in any mining activity.
He stated that Nigeria mining projects should benefit communities and should be facilitated by the Federal and State Government.
This, according to him, will ensure continuous employment for people and create a safe mining environment.