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Dele Alake’s Quest for More Funds For Solid Minerals Exploration

Only recently, the current Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dele Alake, asked the National Assembly for more funds so that his ministry Can beef up solid minerals exploration activities.

He said his Ministry would require about N70 billion to fund solid minerals exploration activities across the country.

This is a good move.

Speaking during the opening session of the investigative hearing of the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Alake identified the twin issues of poor funding for exploration and insecurity as the main challenges hampering the development of the mining sector which is limiting its role as the pivot of diversification of the economy.

In a statement by the minister’s special assistant on media, Segun Tomori, Alake bemoaned the country’s low investment in mining exploration, saying only $ 2.5 million was invested last year, citing figures from Standard & Poor’s report.

Standard & Poor, a global rating agency, had ranked Nigeria’s exploration budget 12th in Africa and placed Ivory Coast in the top position with $147 million.

“When we compare the exploration budgets of other African countries with ours, it is depressing.”

According to Standard & Poor, as of 2023, Nigeria’s investment in exploration was $2.5 million dollars against $147million for Ivory Coast and $133 million for Congo. In our determination to compete, we had proposed a budget of N70 billion to invest in exploration that would cover the entire Nigerian landscape. 

Going by the budget of Year 2024, our capacity to move at our desired speed may be undermined. We need your support to fund exploration and kit our personnel to regulate the sector, “Alake asserted.
Highlighting efforts to combat illegal mining, the Minister informed the senators about the recently unveiled 2,220-man strong Mining Marshals, with 60 operatives deployed in each state of the federation and the FCT.

According to the minister, there are at least four categories of illegal miners: the unlicensed miners; licensed miners mining outside their Cadastral Units; licensed miners mining minerals different from what they are authorised to mine, and foreign miners mining with licences exclusively restricted to Nigerians.
The country loses over $9bn to illegal mining yearly, the minister said.

He said that aside the mining marshals representing the kinetic response to combat illegal mining, there are on-going advocacy through Artisanal and Small Miners (ASM) extension officers and the launch of a campaign on radio spanning at least 113 radio stations across the country that will not only discourage the menace but also urge artisanal miners to form cooperatives and enjoy benefits of legalisation.

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