In a bid to halt the economic losses and health hazards caused by activities of illegal minners in the country, the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has commenced a training workshop for members of the Special Mines Surveillance Task Force on Illegal Mining in Jos, Plateau State.

Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Hon. Abubakar Bawa Bwari, according to a statement by an Assistant Director of Press in the ministry, Mrs.
Rhoda Ishaku Iliya, declared the workshop open and enjoined the task force to be committed to their assignment.

Bwari, who was represented by the Acting Director -General of NMDC, Engr. E. Mbaya explained that the training was aimed at educating and enlightening participants on what constitute illegal mining, noting that the knowledge and skills acquired will assist them to effectively monitor and prevent illegal mining in the country.

He said the ministry was committed to providing necessary support for the Task Force to achieve its mandate.

Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Abdulkadir Muazu, who was represented by the Director, Mines Inspectorate, Engr. Karnap Wuyep informed that the Task Force was set up in 2012 to replace the defunct Mines Police.

Muazu said: “The Task Force was established to work with the ministry at the federal, state and local governments to enforce, monitor and checkmate illegal mining.

“Because of the occurrence of diverse minerals at different locations across the country, we are faced with a lot of challenges resulting from illegal mining and there is need to collaborate with major stakeholders in the sector to assist the ministry in preventing the occurrence of illegal mining under the leadership of mines officers at the state level”.

The permanent secretary therefore encouraged the participants to acquaint themselves with the mode of operations and commodity surveillance that is the minerals, saying that the workshop comprise of lectures, practical, field trip and a visit to the museum.

In his keynote address, Professor Charles Okunjemi highlighted the different types of minerals and how to identify them, including e- tech and conflict minerals, different mineral belts, how to measure and calibrate minerals, among others.

Also in another paper was presented by the Director, Planning, Research and Statistics in the ministry, Mr. Olapade Davies, noted that solid minerals are on the exclusive list of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution.

He said though Nigeria has more than 44 minerals in commercial quantity, the federal government has identified seven priority minerals such as coal, lead and Zinc, iron ore, gold, bitumen and barite.

Davies also stated that the mining Roadmap is targeting three per cent contribution to the gross domestic products, GDP in the next few years and 10 per cent in the future.

The director enumerated various challenges of the sector and the efforts made by the government to address them.