At least 2 million Nigerians are now directly and indirectly dependent on artisanal and small scale mining (ASM) in Nigeria, Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Abubakar Bawa-Bwari has said.
The minister stated this yesterday in Abuja in a keynote address during a programme on stakeholders’ discourse on the opportunities and challenges of artisanal mining in Nigeria with special focus on health, safety, national security, formalisation and empowerment of artisanal miners and effects on environment.
According to him, “Most of them are poor and unemployed, living in rural areas and employing crude methods and household implements to exploit these minerals which they sell to feed their families.
He stressed that at this stage of the country’s development, these are the people responsible for 90 per cent of the country’s mineral production.
“They are mostly to be found mining precious minerals like gold, silver, cassiterite, coltan, lead/zinc, sapphire, emerald, tourmaline, aquamarine, gypsum, barytes, silica sand, granite, sandstones, clay, salt, etc.
He further emphasised that while government cannot afford to criminalise their activities wholesale , it would also not fold its hands and watch as the damage to the lives of people and the environment continue unabated.
After declaring the session open, the minister, alongside the permanent secretary, Abdulkadir Mua’zu, presented a brand new Toyota Hillux to the chairman, Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN), Alh. Shehu Sani as part of the ministry’s support towards enhancing mining operations in the country.
Earlier in his welcome address, Mua’zu noted that though artisanal and small – scale mining has provided jobs for many, the challenges must be addressed given the grave consequences of unregulated and indiscriminate mining on communities and the environment as a whole, hence the importance of the discourse.
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