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Shelve proposed mining ban, LCCI warns FG

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry has told the Federal Government to jettison its plan to ban the activities of miners in the country.

The chamber made the call in a statement titled, “LCCI statement on the proposed nationwide ban on motorcycles and mining activities,” which was signed by its Director-General, Dr Chinyere Almona.

It said the consideration by the National Security Council to impose a nationwide ban on motorcycles and mining activities in the country was acknowledged as a strategy to curb terrorist activities and disconnect them from their sources of funding, according to the government.

According to the statement, the Mining and Solid Minerals Group of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry was concerned about the unintended consequences this ban would have on the mining sector and the business environment.

The statement read in part, “Whilst it can be understood that criminals use motorcycles as means of mobility and escape from the security agencies, it is unacceptable to label the entire Nigerian mining ecosystem as sponsors of banditry and terrorism. This looks like an attempt to blame all legitimate mining operators for the activities of bandits and terrorists operating in Nigeria.

“The Nigerian mining industry employs several thousand in the formal and informal economy of Nigeria. Specifically, the artisanal and small-scale mining ecosystem accounts for at least 90% of the activities in the mining sector; from granite quarrying, limestone mining, to base metals mining, limestone mining for cement production, sand mining, non-metallic industrial inputs for the paint and pharmaceutical industry, to mining of precious metals like gold; as well as gemstones mining.”

According to LCCI, duly licensed mining companies should be clearly differentiated and distanced from the activities of bandits and terrorists whom the National Security Council had based their proposal upon.

The chamber also urged the government to empower the solid minerals and mining sector through the deployment of geographic information systems, automation of application and processing of mining licenses, leases and permits all through a one-stop-shop platform.

The statement further read, “The Integrated Automation and Interactive Solid Minerals Portal should truly be a go-to portal for real time information on the sector. We should also finalize the plan to build a national electronic geo-data archiving management system to be called the Nigerian Geo-Data Center at the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency. All of these would make it easy to access information on mining by investors across the globe.”

On his part, the Director-General of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, John Udeagbala, in an exclusive interview with The PUNCH, described the issue as a double-edged sword which required a critical deliberation before a stance could be taken on the proposal.

He said, “We heard about that, but it a double-edged, and we know that a lot of crimes are associated with those artisanal miners with motorcycles, like in Zamfara. So, we have been trying to weigh it and analyse the situation before coming up with a position. It is two-pronged; we know there are genuine miners who have licenses. We are trying to weigh the two situations before we can take a position.”

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