Nigeria: The U.S.$9 Billion Loss to Illegal Mining (This Day Editorial – October 4, 2021)

The authorities must do more to curb the costly menace

In what has become a familiar recourse to lamentation when concrete action was needed, Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Uche Ogah, recently accused private jet owners of aiding and abetting gold smuggling in the country.

“Gold smuggling in Nigeria is often done using private jets. That is the very reason private jet ownership and operations need to be streamlined in the country,” he said without providing any evidence about those responsible and how they would be bought to account. Yet, according to him, over $9 billion is lost annually to illegal mining in the country.

Nigeria’s solid minerals sector is private sector driven. Through a cadastre-like system, the government allocates mineral titles to investors and subsequently provides oversight functions through policy direction and regulations.

The country’s law in the sector also specifies who could be in possession of or purchase minerals and establishes Minerals Buying Centre (MBC) which according to the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) are currently 103 across the country. But from Osun to Zamfara and elsewhere, illegal mining is now the name of the game, though this has a long Pan-African background and Nigeria must learn lessons from other countries.

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