FG needs N70 billion for solid minerals exploration – Minister  

Minister of Solid Mineral Development, Mr. Dele Alake, has said that the Federal Government requires around N70 billion to fund solid minerals exploration activities across the country.

Mr. Alake stated this during an investigative hearing on Thursday in Abuja with the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals chaired by Senator Ekong Sampson, where he reeled out the challenges bedevilling the ministry.

According to the Minister, Nigeria’s budget for solid minerals exploration is one of the lowest in the world,  noting that insecurity is mitigating against progress in the sector hence the need for Senate approval for increased funding.

He referenced Standard & Poor’s, a global rating agency’s report, which ranked Nigeria’s exploration budget 12th in Africa, with Ivory Coast leading the continent with a $147 million investment.

The Minister, emphasizing efforts to tackle illegal mining, informed the senators about the recently launched 2,220-member Mining Marshals force, with 60 operatives deployed in each state and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

He explained that there are four main categories of illegal miners: unlicensed miners, licensed miners operating outside their cadastral units, licensed miners extracting minerals not covered by their licenses, and miners using licenses exclusively reserved for Nigerians.

The Minister noted that illegal mining costs the country over $9 billion annually.

Aligned with the Federal Government’s new value addition policy, Alake announced plans to establish six additional processing centres across the geopolitical zones.

He emphasized that providing adequate resources for the Mining Marshals and implementing other ministry reforms would require legislative support for appropriate statutes and increased funding.

In his remarks, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals Development, Ekong Sampson, stated that the three-day investigative hearing aims to uncover the challenges hindering the development of the mining sector despite the country’s vast mineral deposits.

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