Following the federal government plan to ban unlicensed mining activities in the country, the business has continued unabated while stakeholders and investors in the sector are kicking against the planned decision.
Illegal mining activities are increasingly becoming a source of employment and income in many communities, but these activities are also attracting bandits and criminal minded individuals raising government concerns.
Miners in Edo state have condemned the decision of the federal government and have called on the authorities to rescind the move, while urging them to overhaul its security architecture.
For example, in Dangbala Community in Akoko Edo Local Government Area of Edo State, like every other community in the locality, it is pastoral, with the dwellers practicing subsistence farming for survival.
The community, from time immemorial, has been sitting on a goldmine. Unknown to them, underneath the earth where they and their progenitors have been farming for decades, there are precious stones. The community boast of precious stones and other mineral resources that are capable of turning the fortune of the rustic village around for good.
Despite the fact that gold was discovered in the community, palpable poverty remains the lot of the inhabitants. Prior to the Edo state government ban owing to the activities of illegal miners, millions of naira is hauled out of the town by the invading illegal mineral miners, who, in recent times, have invaded the place like an army of locusts.
The discovery is the beginning of the problem in the once peaceful community as other miners, illegal and semi-legal, invaded the space.
A miner and core investor in Edo state, and the Managing Director, Macana Nigeria Limited, Mustapher Fawaz, while speaking on development in the sector, is of the opinion that if the federal government goes ahead with its plan to shut down mining activity on account of pervading insecurity, it would be counter-productive.
He posited, “As we all know, there is a lot of illegal mining going on, not just in Edo state. For you to say you want to ban mining in totality because of illegal mining or security issues, you must put into consideration the economic consequences. If you look at the mining sector, it is intertwined with the economy; it penetrates every sector of the economy.
“For example, in the production of cement, you need limestone, dolomite, if you banned it that is like stopping the production of cement in Nigeria or are you now saying the government will start importing cement to Nigeria? For me, it is illogical.
“What we should do is to tackle the activities of illegal mining going on. Another thing is that a lot of people have interest in the continuation of illegal mining they don’t want to really face it.
He however commended the Edo state government for taking decisive action where those who are saddled with such responsibility have failed.
On his part a leader in Dangbala mining community, Comrade Nicholas Collins, told Leadership Weekend that the plan has increased illegal night mining by some invaders from outside the state, giving rise to criminality such as kidnapping, rape and banditry.
“We feel very unsafe in our area. Illegal miners have resumed work at night in Dangbala area. Some women are raped in the presence of their husbands; people don’t go to their farms anymore. We are appealing to the state government to open the ban mining site to genuine miners especially those with consent from the community.
Collins further added that there is need for government to provide adequate security to checkmate noting that illegal miners have resumed their illegal activities.
Also, the Edo state chapter of Miners Association of Nigeria said if mining activities is banned over 20, 000 workers will be thrown into labour market in Edo state.
This is contained in a statement by the Edo State chapter of Miners Association of Nigeria following its meeting presided over by the Chairman, Mr Mike Okhumode.
In the statement signed by the publicity Secretary, Mr Sunny Ifijen, the miners however appealed to the government to reconsider its position because the multiplier effect of the ban would be too grievous for the country to bear at this critical time.
The miners noted that aside the loss of jobs, the proposed ban would also affect the revenue of the country as well as the manufacturing industries that depends on products from the mining industry to survive.
According to the statement, “Attempt to ban mining activities will create mass unemployment, loss of investments, youth unrest, and loss of revenue.
Kwara State is abundantly endowed with many solid minerals including gold.
However, the failure of the appropriate authority to exploit these resources is encouraging illegal mining, which thrives in many parts of the state.
Sometime in 2019, staff of the state Ministry of Mines and Steel Development got information on illegal mining in various locations where gold ore was discovered. This was followed by raids on some illegal mining sites.
The raids led to the arrest of five illegal miners and recovery of over 70 bags of gold ore at a mining site at Odonigi village in Moro local government area of the state.
Over 70 bags of gold ore which is also known as crude gold, tantalite, 10 motorcycles, rifles, charms and implements used for digging were retrieved from the site.
LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered that illegal mining thrives most in Kura community under Yahsikira Emirate in Baruten local government area of the state.
Kura community shares borders with Benin Republic. It was gathered that foreigners are being aided by Nigerians to carry out illegal mining activities in the area.
The spokesman of the NSCDC in the state,Mr Olasunkanmi Ayeni described illegal mining as economic sabotage which attracts punishment.
He said the command had received many reports on illegal mining and miners with sophisticated weapons in some parts of the state.
He added that illegal mining is synonymous with bunkering and vandalism which are organized crimes and warned that if not urgently checked, might lead to crisis of worse dimension.
In her reaction, the state commissioner for Solid Minerals, Mrs Harriet Afolabi- Oshatimehin said the ministry is collaborating with relevant bodies including the Ministry of Local Government / Chieftaincy Affairs; and all security agencies in the state to chekmate illegal mining activities in the state
“But most importantly, we are encouraging illegal minners to obtain licences so that they can earn a living legitimately”, she said
Afolabi- Oshatimehin said the state was not empowered to carry out mining activities because it is on the exclusive list of the federal government.
She disclosed that her ministry is working on an operational policy document that will guide the activities of miners in the state, adding that the ministry will seek the cooperation of the state House of Assembly in making the document becoming a law.
The chairman of the Association of Licensed Small Scale Mining Operators of Nigeria (ALSSMON), Prince Olugbenga Ajala said illegal operations and sales of gold by unregistered miners are parts of the factors responsible for increased terrorist activities in the country.
Ajala who spoke with LEADERSHIP Weekend in Ilorin announced the readiness of ALSSMON to collaborate with the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMI) to tackle illegal mining activities and insecurity in the country.
“Illegal mining is that mining activities that are done without licensing. It implies conducting mining activities without license/permit or using inappropriate permit which is detrimental to development of Nigeria and this has also led to recent illegal sales of gold to fund terrorism,” she added.
Osun State in Southwest Nigeria is blessed with a lot of mineral resources which includes gold, thermocline diamond, lead, granite and a lot of precious stones among numerous others.
Unfortunately, the resources that ought to translate to wealth that would boost the economy of the people endowed with the resources has turned to curse for them due to devastating environmental degradation.
Though the entire state is said to be sitting on one mineral resources or the other according to ecological finding, but currently, Ijesaland with six local government areas have illegal mining of gold, thermolin and others going on their land massively.
The following communities have mining activities going on currently, Ikinyinwa-Ijesa, Iponda-Ijesa, Ilase, Idooko, Ilahun, Ibala, Idoka, Ijana, Wasare, Idominasi, Kajola, Ilare, Otan-Ile, Erin-Ijesa, Esa-Oke, Obokun, Ipetu-Ijesa, Erin-Oke, Ogun, Itagunmodi, Isaobi, Mokuro, Araromi.
Others include, Igun, Oke Oora, Okutu-Omo, Oko-Ogboni, Oke-Osin, Ibodi, Oke-Ibode, Alaba, Araromi, Aba-Isobo, Iyere, Adubule, Ita-Osun, Aogun, Iginla, Ipetu-Ile, Imesi-Ile, Iwara, Iwaraja, Erinmo, among numerous others.
Artisanal miners who are the major source of the illegal miners are predominantly from the northern part of the country mostly those dislocated by the military onslaught in Zamfara State and other predators.
The artisanal miners who have Chinese nationals, Malians, Nigerien nationals, and politically connected individuals as their benefactors descended massively on the communities, overwhelmed them and control their God given resources in collaboration in many cases with their traditional rulers.
Also, most of these beneficiaries of the illegal mining exercise either collaborate with foreign Corporations or smuggle their proceed directly through neighbouring countries such as Togo, Bini Republic, Niger to the United Arab Emirates, Europe among others.
The adverse effects of this illegal mining activities to the environment include: ecological disturbance, landscape degradation, biodiversity loss, pollution of soil, water pollution, ecological risk, air pollution, threat to human health via naturally occurring radionuclides.
Others will include; geological degradation, loss of ancient artifacts, heavy metals content of mining routes, destruction of farmland, destruction of cash crops such as cocoa, kolanut, timber, public health disaster, threat to sustainable rural development neurological disorders, lead poisoning among others.
It is worth mentioning here that activities of Illegal miners was said to have split over to criminal activities by unscrupulous artisanal who now engage in kidnapping, robbery, abduction for ransom and other criminal activities.
Speaking on the development, chief Ademola Okunola from Iginla community said when mining activities started in their community, it was embraced with enthusiasm with the believe that it would boost the economy of individuals and the entire community at large.
He however regretted that their expectations have turned other way adding that the expected economic benefits have turned to great loss with the massive degradation of their farmland.
Okunola noted that illegal mining activities in their community started over sixty-years ago adding that while their fathers enjoyed pittance as proceed from the illegal mining, their children are reaping loss of economic trees and fertile land to mining activities.
Also speaking to LEADERSHIP, Mr Tunde Ogunsiji from Idoka-Ijesa lamented the alleged over-run of their farmland by illegal miners adding that little did they know that the release of their land for mining activities will spell doom for them.
He noted that apart from the degradation of their land, the miners have taken over the community economic activities leaving the community with nothing to fall back at.
However, in an attempt of the Osun State government to salvage the predicament, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola set up the Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee having Hon. Omolade Binuyo as chairman.
Speaking, Binuyo who bemoaned the flagrant abuse of the environment by illegal miners said government has constituted a committee of professionals who are working on how rivers polluted by miners would be cleansed.
He noted that pending the enactment of laws governing the activities of the miners government is monitoring and checking the activities of the illegal miners and bringing culprits to book.
The major impediment to policing and controlling the ugly trend is the federal structure that place mining activities on the exclusive list thereby making it difficult for states who are closer to the miners to act fast on the activities of the illegal miners.
Illegal Mining activities have become a business for some people in Nigeria and Kogi State is not an exception. This can not be said to be unconnected to the high level of mineral deposit in Kogi state.
“Kogi state alone has a total of 29 MINERAL RESOURCES available in commercial quantities. These include coal, dolomite, feldspar, bauxite, iron ore, tar, limestone, gold etc.
Each of the 21 LGAs in the state has deposits of at least 2 minerals.
One of the coal-rich areas is Ankpa LGA which alone holds reserves of 99 million tons of coal. As things stand, Kogi state alone has enough deposits of coal to supply all of Nigeria with electricity for 400 years.
Another LGA is Mopamuro that has Limestone in Commercial Quantities.
This attracted the attention of Mangal Industries Limited to build a $600million Cement Plant that is projected to produce 3-million metric tons per year in Iluagba, Kogi state.
Kogi state alone holds enough limestone to keep 3 giant-sized cement factories (with over 15m tons annual capacity) operational for an unbroken stretch of 99 years.”
As of 2018, Kogi state government “loses over N240 billion annually through illegal mining activities” in the state. According to a report, mining activities are allegedly being carried out indiscriminately by some foreigners without involving government. Some Foreigners that were seen as expatriates hides under this guise to carry out such unlawful act.
According to Medical Experts, Illegal Mining is said to pose great threat to human race as it can cause abortion and affects the reproductive health of both male and female. For instance, Kogi alone has 8 out of the 28 blocks of coals that were identified across 12 states of the federation.
Rural Communities in Kogi have sometimes raised their voices against
environmental Degradation and pollution that became an hinderance to
accessing their farmlands that happens to be their main source of
livelihood. In the process of mining, Indiscriminate felling of trees
have been reported in most communities where the mining activities are
being carried out. Most of these trees are economic trees that rural
dwellers exchange for cash. Another point to note is the fact that most
illegal mining sites are either close or sited by the river. Those
rivers become contaminated and it in turns infect the rural dwellers who
have no access to portable water supply. This act alone causes water
borne diseases that contributes to challenges being faced by the local
Research further reveals that illegal miners totally depend on local
tools like digger, hoes, axes, cutlasses, buckets, and other local
materials for digging. The few modern material used include rock blaster
and petrol pumping machine to draw water out of the mining pits. The
drilling of rocks and the evacuation of debris after blasting is purely
manual by relay method. Different types of intoxicants are taken orally
or injected into the bodies of the young miners who work like machines
tirelessly. Aside the reproductive effect, Respiratory effect is also
paramount considering the fact that safety and protective tools are not
provided for the workers. Inhaling intoxicants also has its own effect
on the lungs which is damaging to the body system.
Inhaling fumes and emissions from Illegal mining activities is said to
have contributed to stillbirth which is prevalent in the rural
Speaking exclusively to Leadership reporter in Lokoja, the State
Commissioner for Solid Minerals, Engr. Bashir Abubakar Mohammed said the
Kogi State Government has taken steps to ensure Mining is properly
regulated in the State.
According to him, the State Government ensures all operators in the
state are well registered and to also encourage them to operate their
He said: “We ensure operators are registered to know the legal and the
illegal ones. We are doing everything legal to ensure that those who
operate here are legal operators. We have also made it mandatory for
operators to meet up with their Community Development Agreements”, he
Engr Abubakar also said the State Government has committed operators to
the security architecture of the state as it is known that some
criminals hide in mining sites to carry out their nefarious activities.
“In Kogi, we use the Policy of ‘Use Your License or Lose It’ which is
supported by the Federal Government. This will encourage our agitation
against people who just collect licenses and refuse to operate.
“Kogi is blessed with a lot of mineral resources and we want to
appreciate the Federal Government for situating the Gold Processing
Plant for the North Central in Kogi State. When it becomes operational,
it will help value addition and create jobs for our teeming youth all
over the North Central geopolitical zone”.
Engr. Bashir Added that Kogi State Government has provided an enabling
environment for Investors to venture into mining.
Plateau State was the home of mining activities by the European before the discovery of oil in Nigeria. Before the oil boom, mining was one of the major sources of revenue generation in the country.
By 1913, there were 108 mining companies registered by the Royal Niger Company and in 1943, tin mining on the Plateau was at its peak as there were about 80,000 African workers.
In the 1970s, Nigeria produced an average of 10,000 tons of tin-ore annually. Experts estimated that miners on the Plateau dig up six million tons of soil every year.
Sitting on a vast mineral-rich Plateau, Jos and its surrounding areas became prosperous and famous as a result of tin mining activities.
But the areas’ wealth came at a price for locals as illegal tin mining has gradually destroyed much of the land in Jos and its environs. A very good size of farmland has been destroyed as a result of the abandoned mining ponds which littered the state.
Besides, illegal mining devastates the environment, causing deforestation, biodiversity and habitat loss as well as water, air and soil pollution through the release of toxic chemicals. Its also led to lost of arable land for Agricultural purposes .
Apart from land degredations the activities of illegal miners also led to loss of tax revenue and loss of income for legal miners, as the illegal miners in effect compete with legal mining operations. Theft of machinery, diesel, tyres and other equipment is also a reality.
However, during dried season it is common to see primary and Secondary school age Children abandoned school for illegal mining activities in Plateau State.
Our correspondent report that the relevant federal and State government agencies should as matter of urgency wake up from slumber to do everything possible to stop the illegal mining activities going on in the state.
These development if allowed to continue will led to low school enrolment as most of the illegal mining sites were close to either Secondary School or Primary School.
Indeed these illegal mining activities is being carried out by mostly youth in Jos North, Bassa, Jos South, Riyom and Barkin Ladi local government council of the state.
Investigation by our correspondent revealed that close to a thousand youth including married women could be seen on a single site.
Apart from the illegal mining activities that is going on, other business like frying of beans cake, there are Burukutu Joint, Marijuana joint, free women are also at the site to offered their service by massaging their clients as soon as they came out from the pit after excavation.
Our correspondent also observed that there are bachers in all the illegal mining sites visited.
In fact every illegal mining site is a conglomeration of other supportive business activities.
As against this background, stakeholders in education sector in Barkin-Ladi and Bassa local government area has cried out and call on relevant government authority to look into this ugly trend that is affecting the education of school age children.
According to Mrs. Dorathy Johnson, “This development has led to increase in school drop out in the area.”
Recently, the Principal of Government Secondary School Mister. Alih, Mrs. Jijida Jamo told our correspondent that the ongoing mining activities in the area is threatening the education and distracting the activities of the institution and called for urgent intervention.
She pointed out that last year it took the effort of security personnel to chase away this illegal miners in the area but this year they have come back again in large numbers.
Speaking to our correspondent in one of the site of the illegal mining, Yohana a 25 years old boy said he use the proceed from the business to take care of his aged parents as well as his needs.
“People call our business illegal mining and some time security operatives goes after us it is better than to go and steal or engaged in kidnapping business. We are exploring the blessing of God on our land to our own benefit.” He said.”
In the same vein the deputy Speaker House of Representatives and member representing Wase federal constituency, Idris Was told newsmen in Jos the Plateau State capital, that the illegal mining has persisted for almost a decade in his Constituency.
In Niger state artisan and illegal mining are everywhere because of large deposit of gold and gemstone in the state, to the extent women and children are also involved.
Apart from making the children vulnerable the situation has also exposed the people yo environmental and security challenges.
Within the year, LEADERSHIP weekend report that 12 youths were submerged by falling cave in a mining site in Lapai while scores were killed by Terrorists at Ajata-Aboki in Shiroro.
It has become a source of brisk business for youth who want to make it fast , to the extent that even Niger state college of education Minna premises with large deposit of gold and gemstone was encroached by illegal Miners thereby exposing the students and workers to danger.
The inherent danger made Niger state government to ban mining in the areas ravaged by insecurity in the state before the federal government pronounced it formally.
Whereas the Mining reduced among artisans , chinese Miners working for some powerful interests in the state continued mining guarded by heavily armed Security Operatives.
LEADERSHIP weekend observed that even with the heavily armed Security Operatives Bandits were able to kill over 40 people at one of the Chinese mining site in Ajata-Aboki, Shiroro local government area in July and 4 of the Chinese miners are still in captivity as at the time of filing this report.
Consequently it was observed that the number of Officer and soldiers lost at the mining site at Ajata-Aboki informed the ban on mining by the federal government
Speaking on this the Chairman Nigeria Miners Association, Niger State Chapter Alhaji Mohammed Mambo however disagreed with the Federal Government’s planned policy on banning of mining activities
Mambo said the ban will only cause more havoc and create unemployment among the teaming youths and women in the mining industry in the country.
He explained that thousands of people are benefiting from the mining sector of the economy and any attempt to ban mining would be counterproductive because it will provide avenue for the recruitment of more youth into banditry, terrorism and other social vices.
He said the best way to o get out of the security challenges is for the Federal Government to support security agencies in ensuring effective intelligence gathering to curb the current security challenges bedeviling the nation.
Also speaking the Representative of women in mining, Khadijat Alimashawun lamented the decision of the government to ban mining.
She pleaded with the federal government to come to their aide, adding that miners in Niger state are well coordinated, registered and licenced
Another Miner Babangida Sani said that Nigerians should be able to differentiate between bandits, terrorists and kidnappers from miners who are carrying out their legitimate business.
He expressed surprise that recently President Muhammadu Buhari called for diversification of the Nigerian economy to mining resources and at the same time planning to ban mining activities in the country.
IN Kebbi state, the only place where mining is taking place illegally, is Garin- Awwal village in Fakai local government area of the state.
The present administration under, Governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu has taken a drastic measure stooping the illegal mining in the area.
Speaking to Leadership weekend in telephone interview, Commissioner for Environment and Solid Mineral Resources, Hatatuseen Bawa Jega said under the measures, government has deployed security operatives in the area to arrest those mining illegally and prosecute them.
He added that in order not abuse the system, there was arrangement with the state government with Federal Mineral resources Departments to secure a license for the teaming youths willing to mining legally in the area paying some amount in to covers of government as revenue.
‘’ A lot of them have been engaged under this arrangement and government is generating huge as revenue and legal mining currently is taking place.