The Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN) has called for the review of 100 per cent mining assets ownership policy accorded to foreign nationals to curtail insecurity in the country. Alhaji Musa Muhammad, Acting National President of the association made the call while briefing newsmen on Wednesday in Abuja. Muhammad said it became imperative for the Federal Government to review the policy as the policy had given the foreigners indiscriminate access to mining locations across the county. He said that the policy should be reviewed in the interest of national security. He said that under the recent Executive Order, foreign nationals should be prevented from entering mining sites during this period of national security emergency. “Association is aware of the various statutes regulating the incorporation of companies in the country, neither are we ignorant of the possibility of existing bilateral and multilateral treaties and agreements that may be binding on Nigeria.
“But the presence of these foreigners, especially those of the Asian and European extractions is a major attraction for kidnappers into the mining sites. The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development should review this policy and encourage partnership with indigenous operators who will oversee and manage the investments of their foreign partners,” he said. He said that major challenges facing the sector were lack of enforcement capacities in terms of human, logistics and infrastructure to actualise the dreams, aspirations, and sectoral expectations envisioned in the various statutory, regulatory and policy documents. “The vision of the Association is to positively engage the government to provide enabling environment for mining activities to thrive, while her mission statement is to move mining activities to greater heights,” he added. He said that the banning of mining activities in Zamfara and Katsina States had only succeeded in getting the legitimate operators out of their concessions and providing hideouts for criminals.
“The ban on mining activities in Zamfara, Katsina and Niger States should be reversed so that licensed mine owners can relocate to their mines and team with our security agencies to combat the bandits feasting on their legitimate concessions,” he said. Muhammad said that the Remote Sensing and Monitoring Systems, an initiative launched in February 2020 by the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, should be considered for implementation and installation in all mining locations. “The initiative can be concretised through a multi-agency approach by the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Nigerian Police, Miners Association of Nigeria among others. More digitised surveillance system for advance warnings, via continuous monitoring should be procured with adequate administrative and security personnel to enforce compliance with various regulatory policies and security protocols. The Artisansl and Small Scale Mining Department should be empowered with personnel and logistics to provide the extension services as provided in section 91 of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007,” he said.
He said that government should accord the solid minerals sector similar attention and funding models as applied to agricultural sector. “The government, through the funding agencies, should engage MAN to review the conditions to access the various intervention facilities meant for the sector,” he said. He said lack of growth in the sector and the presence of all forms of illegality and criminality could be traced to poor regulatory enforcement capacity and extension service workers as provided in section 91 of the Nigeria Minerals and Mining Act 2007. He called on the Federal Government to establish Solid Mineral Development Bank that could give loans to miners at two per cent digit rate, as mining operations are capital intensive.(NAN)