Minister of Mining and Steel Development, Lekan Adegbite, has admitted that Federal Government lacked the capacity to preempt illegal mining in the country.
The minister admitted this while speaking on achievement of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration on mining sector on Arise TV Morning Show on Tuesday.
Adegbite emphasized the need to de-risk the mining sector to attract local and international investors.
He explained that mining is a very risky venture, hence, the government needs to de-risk that sector by investing its own money into exploration and acquiring data so that these data would drive people to the sector.
He, however, added that a huge step is already being taken by President Muhammed Buhari, especially in 2017.
The minister noted that the mining industry contributes a giant leap to the GDP compared to what it remitted in the past.
“You need to appreciate that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a step. If you look at the contribution of the mining industry ten years ago, and what it is contributing today, it is a giant leap. While we were doing less than a billion then, today we are doing ten billion.
“Look at the kind of exploration budget we have in petroleum, it is billions of dollars but the best we got under president Muhammed Buhari was $100 million amounting to N30 billion at that time and of course, we put half of that into exploration.
“Actually, the input is what will justify the output. A little is being put into mining right now. We could do it a lot more because the more we de-risk the sector, the more interested investors will come in and begin to deliver”, he said.
Speaking on the issue illegal mining, he said the ministry is working with security to tighten the loose and to ensure that illegal activities don’t take place in the first place.
“We are beginning to see legal corporate bodies working in the sector. They are paying a lot of resources in terms of remits to the government. If we have a lot more of these legal people they will be able to crowd out the illegal people from that space. Any space given to a legal entity guards it jealously and that reduces the burden on us.
“But sincerely, I admit we have some illegality all over the place because Nigeria is a vast place and I cannot come here and tell you that we have the resources to preempt this because we can’t be everywhere at the same time. But wherever we are alerted, we are alive to that responsibility; we dislodge them, arrest the illegal people and prosecute them to the full extent of the law”, Adegbite declared.