The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has called on the Federal Government to ensure full compliance to the laws and regulations guiding the solid minerals sector in Nigeria.
NEITI made the call on the heels of the 2018 audit report of the solid minerals sector released recently. In the report NEITI had given an overview of the legal and institutional frameworks that are regulating the solid minerals sector, including the allocation of contracts and licenses. The various provisions are to put in place to ensure the orderly conduct of business in the sector and guarantee the rights of operators amongst others.
NEITI advised all operators in the sector; government, companies and the host communities to ensure strict compliance to the laws guiding the sector so as to safeguard sustainability practices in the management of the sector in Nigeria.
Some of the laws operational in the solid minerals sector in Nigeria include: the mineral ordinance of 1946, the coal ordinance of 1950, the Explosives Act of 1964, and the Explosives Regulations of 1967. These laws provided the foundation for the legal framework for the development of the solid minerals sector in Nigeria. However, the Nigeria Minerals and Mining Act (NMMA), 2007, is presently at the core of the regulation of all aspects of exploration and exploitation of solid minerals in Nigeria. This was followed closely by the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Regulations (NMMR) which came into effect in 2011 and provided guidance to the implementation of the NMMA”.
However, following current realities and due to the dynamism of the solid minerals sector in Nigeria, attempts were made to amend the NMMA 2007 by the 8th Assembly. The two principal changes proposed by the bill were: The creation of a new regulatory agency for the mining sector to be called the Nigerian Mining & Minerals Commission, and Provision for a separate mineral lease and licensing process for artisanal miners.
There are other legislations that support the mining sector in Nigeria. One of them is the NIPC Act 2004 which provides for various incentives in order to encourage and promote investment in the Nigerian economy, including the solid minerals sector. Section 29 (2) of the Nigeria Minerals and Mining Act 2007 also aligns with the provisions made in the NIPC Act 2004 with respect to foreign investments in the solid minerals sector.
Despite these numerous legislations, scrupulous individuals still engage in illegal mining and other nefarious activities in the sector. Just recently, 3 different arrests of Chinese and Ghanaian illegal miners were made through the combined efforts of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Nigeria Police Force and Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps. These illegal miners were operating in the country without proper authorization. Note that illegal and unauthorized mining has posed huge challenges and has hindered the growth of the minerals sector.
The mining sector in Nigeria is being touted to significantly improve the nation’s economy thereby cushioning the effects of economic hardship especially during the covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the nation’s economic fortunes.