The sum of N18.32bn has been earmarked for the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in the 2020 budget presented by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The allocation translates to an 85 per cent increase from the 2019 budget.
The sum includes N9.18bn for personnel and N1.72bn for overhead costs.
The ministry also allocated N10.9bn as recurrent expenditure and N7.4bn for capital expenditure.
However, a former President, Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society, Prof. Clifford Teme, said he would not be surprised if the governors were supporting the activities of illegal miners because “mining is a lucrative venture”.
He said unregulated mining procedures, high poverty level and greed were major factors fueling illegal mining in parts of the country.
“Efforts are being made to establish what is called artisanal mining scheme to ensure that miners are now registered. There are many illegal miners who just mine our gold, particularly in Zamfara State, and take it to Dubai,” he added.
He said it would take a very long time before illegal mining could be curtailed, adding, “Mining rules are there but many are not obeying them.”
The National President, Barite Miners and Processors in Nigeria, Stephen Alao, told our correspondent that although there were no illegal miners in barite, he stated that there were illegal miners in gold, lead and other solid minerals.
Alao said, “There is no illegal mining in barite mining in Nigeria. Illegal mining is common in gold and other minerals like lead and others like that. But there are no illegal miners in barite.
“It is so simple to tackle illegal mining activities in any area. We have structures in place to check illegal mining activities. The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has what is called the Directorate of Mines Inspection.
“Mines inspections are replicated in all the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory. They have offices at the state level and at that state level, any mines operating there – the Mines Inspectorate Division can find out whether the miners are legal or illegal.”
But a former member of Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Senator Boluwaji Kunlere, told one of our correspondents that it did not come to his knowledge that some governors were supporting illegal miners when he and his colleagues were carrying out oversight functions.
He, however, said illegal mining could be checked with government’s determination.
“Although those who are involved are always determined but government can stop it,” he said
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