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Nigerian Miners Call on Govt to Address Chinese Lithium Mining and State Interference


Grace Chigbu

The Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN) has appealed to the Federal Government (FG) to address concerns over Chinese mining of lithium in Nigeria and the growing interference of state governments in mining activities. During a press conference held in Abuja, MAN’s President, Mr. Dele Ayanleke, emphasized the association’s commitment to supporting the economic diversification agenda through practical contributions within the mining sector.

One of the focal points of MAN’s address was the increasing interference of state governors in mining operations. The association raised alarms over recent executive orders issued by some state governors, either banning or attempting to regulate mining activities. MAN voiced concerns about these actions usurping the roles of constitutionally recognized mining industry regulators and impeding the growth of the sector.

Ayanleke expressed the need for the government to establish a clear agenda for the solid minerals sector, asserting that, “As investors and operators, we are poised to present a comprehensive blueprint to the new administration. This blueprint will outline our contributions toward a mining regime that aligns with the economic diversification objectives.”

Furthermore, MAN highlighted its commitment to eradicating illegal mining activities. The association expressed readiness to collaborate with the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and other relevant stakeholders to create a regulated and sanitized mining environment. The recent actions by certain state governments, including Ebonyi, Osun, Enugu, Cross River, and Taraba, were scrutinized for their attempts to issue executive orders that could potentially disrupt mining operations.

The association firmly pointed out that determining the legality of mining operations falls within the domain of constitutionally mandated agencies, not individual state governments. MAN invoked Section 44(3) of the 1999 Constitution, as well as Section 1(1) of the Mining Act 2007, emphasizing that mineral resources’ ownership and mining regulations are exclusively under federal jurisdiction. This constitutional framework ensures uniformity and prevents ambiguity in mining-related matters.

Ayanleke emphasized that the objective was not to antagonize state governments but to address a governance obstacle impeding the solid minerals sector’s contribution to Nigeria’s economic diversification agenda. He stressed that enabling mining best practices would boost local investors’ participation, attract foreign investment, and prevent unprocessed mineral resources from being excessively exported to the detriment of the nation’s citizens.

Drawing parallels to Nigeria’s past, Ayanleke reminded of the initiatives taken during the post-independence First Republic that transformed agricultural resources into thriving industrial developments. MAN’s President called on the government to learn from these historical successes and leverage the potential of the solid minerals sector for the country’s economic growth.

The recent discourse aligns with the Nigerian Government’s recognition of the significant revenue losses attributed to illegal artisanal miners within the country’s mining industry. Dr. Mary Ogbe, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, revealed that these practices contribute to unemployment and hinder overall development. Speaking at the inauguration of the new National Executive Council of MAN in Abuja, Dr. Ogbe urged the association to discourage illegal mining activities among its members.

The appeal from Dr. Ogbe was met with a proactive response from MAN, as the association reiterated its commitment to eradicating illegal mining activities and collaborating with the FG to ensure the growth and sustainability of the sector. In the midst of these challenges, MAN’s appeal emphasizes the need for a harmonious synergy between the government, mining industry stakeholders, and state governments to drive forward the mineral resources sector in Nigeria.

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