Illegal miners in Nigeria told to join co-ops

Those mining illegally in Nigeria have 30 days to join a co-op or face prosecution

Nigeria’s minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dele Alake, has given illegal miners a 30-day deadline to join a miners’ co-operative or face prosecution.

Alake made the announcement on Sunday in the country’s capital, Abuja, as he shared the government’s ‘Agenda for the Transformation of the Solid Minerals for International Competitiveness and Domestic Prosperity’.

From October, all illegal miners will be arrested by ‘mines police’, sourced from the Nigerian police force and coordinated by a new Mines Surveillance Security Task Force.

The directive has received criticism from the national secretary of the Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN) and chief executive of HNF Global Resources Ltd, Engr Fatai Jimoh, who said that the 30-day window was too short, and that 90 days would have been better. Jimoh also stressed that the transformation of Nigeria’s mining sector should be carried out gradually and not with force.

The 30-day deadline, along with the creation of the new task force, comes as part of the ministry’s seven-point agenda which also includes joint ventures with mining multinationals, big data on priority minerals and their deposits, a comprehensive review of all mining licences and the creation of six mineral processing centres.

The minister also announced government plans to set up a Nigerian Solid Minerals Corporation, that will focus on gold, coal, limestone, bitumen, lead, iron-ore and baryte. Nigeria’s federal government has identified these minerals as Nigeria’s strategic deposits due to their economic value.

Nigeria’s estimated reserves include 3bn metric tonnes of iron ore, 42bn metric tonnes of bitumen, 10m metric tonnes of lead and zinc, 3bn metric tonnes of coal and 21.37 metric tonnes of gold.