The Senate yesterday urged the Federal Government to develop a legal framework to checkmate illegal artisanal mining across the country.
This call followed a motion titled: The need to check Illegal Mining Activities in the Country, sponsored by Sen Yau Sahabi, representing Zamfara North, at plenary.
The Senate further urged the Federal Government to clean up the areas affected by lead poisoning in Zamfara State, rehabilitate the victims and environmental degradation in the state.
In his lead debate, Sen. Sahabi, noted that Nigeria is rich in over 40 types of minerals, with the solid minerals sector proving to be a potential source of economic development and diversification of the economy.
He said the exploration and exploitation of mineral resources in the country dated back to 1902 with the production of tin, coal and considerable ton of gold yearly.
He acknowledged that the objective of the National Policy on Solid Minerals is to ensure orderly development of mineral resources in the country.
He said the Senate is saddened that over the years, illegal mining activities has continued to increase across the country, especially in Niger, Plateau, Zamfara, Enugu, Ebonyi and Imo states respectively, where it thrives without check.
He lamented that illegal mining sites not only breed criminality, but also exacerbates terrorism and insurgency as witnessed in states where mining activities are being done, especially, Zamfara State, where the state of insecurity could be traced to these illegal mining sites.
He said the Senate is aware that an online platform reported in August, 2018, that over two million people depend on illegal mining for their livelihood in the country.
He said illegal artisanal mining accounts for over 80 per cent of mining and this is largely informal activity, without any revenue accruals to the government.
He expressed worry that due to illegal mining, the solid mineral sectors contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country dipped over time, showing that while Nigeria gets less from the sector, other African countries enjoy significant contribution from the sector to their GDP.
For example, the sector contributes over 40per cent to the GDP of Botswana; and in Congo and South Africa, it is about 25per cent and 18per cent respectively.
He insisted that despite derailing the attainment of the nations targeted GDP, the affected states, especially Zamfara is greatly short-changed economically.
He further expressed concern that the occupational health and environmental impact on the country is incalculable as witnessed in the tragic lead poisoning that claimed several lives in Zamfara State not too long ago.
Senator in the contributions bemoaned lack of a comprehensive legal framework for mining in the country and called for urgent action to redress the anomaly.
Author: Sanni Onogu, Abuja