The Federal Government has announced an additional 30-day ultimatum for illegal miners in the country to join cooperatives.
According to Dele Alake, the minister of solid minerals development, who had granted a 30-day ultimatum in September, the extended grace period was necessary seeing that the illegal miners were being responsive to the call to formalise their operations.
“If they become formalised, it will be easier to educate and push them into proper mining operations that will be beneficial, not only to them, but the host communities, and to the environment.
“Because of the pragmatism involved in the field, we’ve also decided to extend that ultimatum by another 30 days, after which there will be no reprieve for anybody circumventing this regulation.”
Alake, who addressed a press briefing ahead of the Nigeria Mining Week in Abuja on Wednesday, noted that the drive for a formalised operation was imperative to ensure that the mining environment in which they operate is not devastated, while also empowering them to become real bankable investments.
“There’s a lot of environmental devastation going on in these uncoordinated mining activities, they will then begin to do their normal business without fear of arrest or harassment by the security agencies. So, the ultimatum was not to punish them, it was to formalise and bring them on board a structured dynamic,” he said.
Alake had earlier said that efforts were ongoing by the government to introduce a rejuvenated security regime in the solid minerals sector. This will include the mining police, sourced from the Nigeria Police and specially trained to detect illegal mining and apprehend offenders.
The mining surveillance security task force, according to him, will coordinate the mining police and proactively address high-risk incidences of breach of mining laws.