Minister Urges Senate Support to Boost Solid Minerals Development

By Joke Kujenya

MINISTER OF Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Dele Alake, has highlighted inadequate funding and insecurity as significant hurdles hindering the progress of solid minerals development in Nigeria.

In a bid to address these challenges, Alake has called upon the Senate to increase funding for the ministry, thereby enhancing its capacity to conduct comprehensive exploration of the nation’s extensive mineral reserves.

Segun Tomori, Special Assistant on Media to the Minister, conveyed this plea during a Tuesday session at the Senate Committee meeting. Alake emphasized during the opening session of the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals’ investigative hearing that insufficient funding for exploration and security concerns are primary obstacles to the mining sector’s development, impeding its potential role in diversifying the economy.

Expressing concern over Nigeria’s low investment in mining exploration, Alake referenced data from Standard & Poor’s, revealing that only $2.5 million was allocated for exploration last year.

Nigeria’s exploration budget ranked 12th in Africa according to Standard & Poor’s, with countries like Ivory Coast and Congo leading with significantly higher investments of $147 million and $133 million, respectively.

Alake stressed the urgency of increasing Nigeria’s exploration budget, proposing a budget of N70 billion to cover comprehensive exploration across the nation’s landscape.

He underscored the necessity of adequate funding to ensure the ministry’s ability to operate efficiently and regulate the sector effectively.

In addressing illegal mining activities, Alake unveiled the deployment of 2,220 Mining Marshals, with 60 operatives assigned to each state and the Federal Capital Territory.

These marshals are tasked with combating various forms of illegal mining, which cost the country an estimated $9 billion annually.

Furthermore, Alake outlined ongoing efforts to curb illegal mining, including advocacy through Artisanal and Small Miners (ASM) extension officers and a nationwide radio campaign aimed at discouraging illegal mining and encouraging miners to formalize their operations by joining cooperatives.

To date, 152 cooperatives have been established across the country in alignment with the Minister’s agenda.

In alignment with the FG’s value addition policy, Alake disclosed plans to establish six additional processing centers across the geopolitical zones. However, he emphasized that the effectiveness of these initiatives, including the equipping of mining marshals, necessitates legislative support and improved funding.

Senate President Sen. Godswill Akpabio commended Alake for his personal attendance at the public hearing, indicating the presidency’s commitment to making solid minerals a cornerstone of economic diversification.

Sen. Akpabio advocated for collaborative efforts between the executive and legislature to curb the losses incurred through illegal mining activities.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals Development, Senator Ekong Sampson, emphasized the importance of the three-day investigative hearing in addressing the challenges hindering the mining sector’s development.

Sen. Sampson underscored Nigeria’s vast mineral resources and emphasized the need to harness them for the benefit of all Nigerians.

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