The minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, has said that perpetrators of illegal mining in Nigeria are mostly foreigners.
Adegbite made this known to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja.
He said that all illegal mining happening in Nigeria could be traced to foreigners that came into the country illegally or with extraction permits for another purpose.
He said, “Illegal mining is an issue in Nigeria, foreigners hide under the artisanal miners to operate mining illegally; they give artisanal miners equipment and little money to mine for them. Some of these foreigners came into our country with extraction permits for another purpose but they ended up mining minerals illegally, while some came in through borders.
While stating that government has put measures in place to check illegal mining activities going on in the country, he clarified that “Artisanal miners are not illegal miners, they are doing mining through subsistence means to enable them put food on their tables. We cannot call them illegal miners or criminalised them.
“The ministry has a department called Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Department; it is in charge of training and making incentives available to artisanal miners to win them over from illegal foreign miners.
“We are encouraging the artisanal miners to take every mineral they mined to mineral buying centres established by the government and they will be paid adequately. By doing this, we are isolating them from illegal foreign miners,” the minister explained.
According to him, President, Muhammadu Buhari has also set up a mining police comprising Inspector-General of Police, Chief of Army Staff, National Security Advisers among others to address illegal mining across the country.
“We are working with the ministry of interior to also check the activities of illegal foreign miners and how they came into the country through the immigration, he said.