… train illegal miners

The Minister of mines and steel development, Kayode Fayemi, on Thursday unveiled plans to conduct audit of the nation’s solid minerals sector over the past five years.
Fayemi, who appeared before the House Committee on Solid Minerals during the 2016 budget appraisal and 2017 budget defence. The minister said illegal mining would be one of the major priorities of the ministry in 2017.
The minister, who expressed concern over high rate of tax evasion in the country’s solid mining sector, said the ministry earmarked N171 million to recruit revenue consultants.
“So, we are doing an audit of the last five years and then we will build a consistent mechanism that will allow our federal mining officers in the states to work with these independent consultants in the generation of revenue. But we have to pay to make it work well,’’ Fayemi said.
According to Fayemi, the sum of N3.1 billion is expected to be generated in 2017 with focus on royalties and fees, saying N8.7 billion was for personnel, overhead N1.5 billion and capital N12.8 billion.
The minister said the ministry planned to establish a safer mining technique centre to promote safe mining in the country.
“This is important to us because we have had to deal with incidents of lead poison that confronted small scale informal miners and we believe we need to begin to develop a process that can also serve as a training opportunity for people who want to engage in small scale mining.
“We are to support these people who are doing this thing as anti-poverty strategy by providing to build a skill base, to provide them with tools and to provide them with education,” he said.
The minister added that the Ministry earmarked N500 million for research development and collaboration with universities.
“We believe it is time for us to develop and strengthen that partnership in order for them to be of value to us,’’ he added.
While speaking, Mohammed Onawo, one of the lawmakers said that the estimate was inadequate to implement the diversification plan of the Federal Government.
“If we are going to leverage on this ministry to diversify, Federal Government has to do more to help the ministry. Miners are not encouraged, so government has to help miners to reduce the influx of illegal miners in the country,’’ Onawo said.