As the country grapples with dwindling revenue, Senate has concluded plans to begin a 3-day public hearing to investigate the yearly loss of $9billion as a result of illegal mining and smuggling of Gold out of Nigeria.
This public hearing scheduled to commence Monday follows a motion moved by Senate Chief Whip and Senator representing Abia North, Sen. Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu.
Our correspondent gathered that the three-day public hearing to address the illicit activities in the nation’s mining sector especially as the activities of illegal miners continue to cause revenue leakage.
Recall that the Senate at its plenary session last year passed resolutions to investigate the loss of revenues worth billions of dollars due to illegitimate mining.
Giving analysis to his colleagues, Kalu disclosed that Nigeria lost close to $54b from 2012 to 2018 due to illegal smuggling of gold.
While also pointing out that the country is said to be losing about $9 billion yearly to illegal mining and gold exportation, a huge amount of money unaccounted for through under-the-radar sales of the expensive commodity.
Kalu disclosed further that the activities of unlicensed miners were becoming prevalent within the industry and the incessant smuggling of the solid mineral out of the country by middlemen and smugglers, is leading to loss of government revenue.
According to Kalu, gold mining operations in Nigeria are capable of providing no fewer than 250,000 jobs and over $500 million dollars annually in royalties and taxes to the federal government and as mineral resources.
Raising additional concerns Kalu explained that jobs and revenue accrued to the mining sector would further diversify the nation’s economy and improve the foreign exchange reserve. He elucidated that due to Nigeria’s current estimated gold reserves of over a 200million ounces, most of which have not been exploited, developing sustainable programmes that will catalyse increased investment in the extraction and refining of gold sourced from mines in Nigeria, is indeed vital.
Making reference to data obtained from the Ministry of Solid Minerals and Development, Kalu revealed that there are gold deposits in Federal Capital Territory Abuja, Abia, Bauchi, Cross River, Edo, Niger, Sokoto, Kebbi, Oyo, Kogi, Zamfara, Osun, and Kaduna states.
Kalu argued that if the country conserves it’s gold reserves, and ensures effective exploitation, the accruing revenue would surpass that of oil and gas.
In his lead discourse, Kalu drew the attention of colleagues 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 the matter and launch an investigation on the matter and report back to the Senate.
It is expected that the Senate will during the three-day hearing grill major Government and non Governmental stakeholders in the mining sector over the clandestine activities of illegal miners in the country.
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).iv. Explosive Act 1964 (Repeal and Re-enactment ) Bill 2021 (SB.749).
Former Governor and Chairman Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy, Senator Tanko Al-Makura is expected to preside over the three-day legislative activity.
According to a notice signed by Al-Makura the committee also invites State Governors, the Governor Central Bank of Nigeria, the Hon. Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Minister of Finance, Hon. Minister of State of Mines and Steel Development, the Permanent Secretary and top Management Staff of Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, the DGs/CEOs of Parastatals and Agencies under the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, the Executive Secretary NEITI, Nigeria Labour Congress, Nigeria Immigration, NEXIM, the BOI, Chambers of Commerce, Mines, industries and Agriculture, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Nigeria Mining and Geo-sciences Society, All Stakeholders, NGOs, CSOs, Artisanal Miners, Nigeria Council of Mining Engineers, Women in Mining Nigeria, Gold Dealers Association and the General Public.