The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dele Alake, has revealed that miners and operators in the sector owe the Federal Government over N2 trillion.
Alake stressed that the current administration under President Bola Tinubu is resolute in its efforts to curb the activities of illegal miners across the country.
Speaking at a meeting with licensed mineral holders and laterite/sand mining dealers in Kaduna State on Thursday, Alake condemned the activities of illegal miners as a significant crime against Nigeria and its citizens and deemed them unacceptable.
He said: “Miners and operators owed the Federal Government over N2 trillion,” while “in Kaduna State it is over N300 billion.”
“We have made it very clear that in Kaduna State, every operator must take bold steps and clear their debts,” said the minister, represented by Kutman Hosea Ali, the Acting Zonal Mining Officer of the North-West Zone Office.
Meanwhile, Minister Dele Alake has directed the Special Mines Taskforce mobilized in Kaduna State to crack down on illegal miners and enforce monthly payment of royalties and other taxes to the Federal Government.
The Special Mines Surveillance Taskforce consists of members of the Nigerian Army, Police, Civil Defense Corps, Department of State Security Services, officers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Nigeria Immigration Service, with mining officers in the state leading the team .
He further criticized the failure to transfer funds collected as royalties and taxes on mineral resources to the federal government, warning that states that default would face fines.
Alake clarified that mining falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government, meaning that only the federal government has the authority to collect royalties or any mining taxes, while state and local governments are not allowed to do so.
“Let me clarify: the state government and local government have the right to collect other taxes such as leasehold and other taxes, but they are not allowed to collect royalties and taxes on mining.
“Any state government or local government raising money in the name of royalties or mineral taxes will be deducted from the source allocated to the state.
“The Special Mines Taskforce has been activated in Kaduna State and they have commenced their fight against illegal mining and non-payment of royalties, which are payable monthly as well as other taxes to the government of Nigeria,” the minister added to.
He warned miners and operators against undertaking field activities without a valid mining permit, stressing that those with permits must obtain permits from the Mining Bureau in Kaduna before mobilizing to sites.
The purpose of the meeting was to unveil the ministry's plan for miners and operators for 2024 and beyond. Alake stressed that the mining sector has been given top priority under President Tinubu's administration, underscoring the importance of the meeting.
In his remarks, Ado Dogo, Chairman of the Miners Association of Nigeria, Kaduna Chapter, represented by the Association Secretary, Kashim Hussaini, emphasized the need for dialogue between miners and regulators. He deplored what he described as the interference of state governors in mining activities, stressing the importance of governors adhering to mining laws in their respective states.
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“We as miners know that we operate within a state, local government and even in villages, but sometimes state governors can prevent you from working. Meanwhile, we are doing this mining operation by contributing to the federation account,” he said.