Niger State leads the states with illegal mining of solid minerals in Nigeria, according to the latest report by Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).
Reporting on improving transparency and governance for value optimisation in Nigeria’s mining sector, NEITI SAID Plateau, Ebonyi, Imo, Enugu and Zamfara, in that order, were the other five states where illegal mining activities were high in the country.
The report said Niger State had 10 illegal mining sites where minerals such as gold, lead, zinc and tantalite were consistently mined illegally.
Tin, dolomite, barites and zinc are minerals found to be taken away illegally in Plateau State in seven different mining sites, making the state the second on the list, according to NEITI.
Ebony and Imo states had five illegal mining sites each, while Enugu and Zamfara paraded four illegal mining sites each, where cumulatively, lateritic soil, lead, zinc and gold were illegally taken, the agency said.
Currently, solid mineral sector contributes 0.3% to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a ratio that the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Abubabar Bawa Bwari, hopes will increase to three percent by end of 2019.
Equally, NEITI noted that if the country adequately and transparently harnesses its solid mineral resources deposited across the 36 states, the minerals could contribute significantly to the nation’s wealth.
However, the amount that Nigeria loses daily due to illegal mining activities is difficult to quantify because data in the industry are either not available or not reliable, according to analysts.
“It’s difficult to put a value to it, very difficult. But what is taken out illegally is huge,” Oyewole Oworo, a Lagos-based solid minerals consultant, said.
“Much of the data on Nigeria’s mineral production remain unreliable mostly due to the fact that the mining operations are conducted mainly by small-scale artisanal miners, and also due to the proliferation of illegal mining across the country,” the editorial consultant of NEITI, Gbenga Okunlola, said.