The House of Representatives on Thursday resolved to investigate the revenue leakages of about US$50 billion (N8 trillion) in the solid mineral mining sector, in the last five years.
Also to be investigated are the activities of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in tracking and curtailing all solid mineral movements within and outside Nigeria.
The resolution followed the adoption of a motion to this effect by Hon. Johnson Agboyinma (APC, Edo).
Agboyinma, while leading debate on the motion, had noted that there was urgent need to diversify Nigeria’s economy away from crude oil to alternative sources in order to cushion the effects of dwindling oil revenue.
He said the mining sector is a key driver in National Economic Development as Nigeria has abundant deposits of iron, coal and bitumen, adding that the under-utilization of the mining sector has led to the importation of minerals that could be domestically produced.
“In 2006, reports by Signal One International, a privately owned United States (US) company, Nigeria lost over US$50 billion in gold tax revenue over the last two years as a result of illegal mining and exportation of unprocessed gold,” Agboyinma stated.
He added that the former minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, had earlier identified inadequate tracking as key challenges to effective monitoring of revenue leakages in Nigeria’s mining sector.
Agboyinma expressed concern that reports from the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) indicated that in 2014 and 2015, Nigeria lost about US$9 billion to illegal mining operations and gold exportation.
He further noted that given the current average price of US$1,200 per ounce of gold in the international market, Nigeria is losing an unaccounted sum of US$4,232,40 per day to illegal mining.
Contributing to the debate on the motion, Aminu Shagari (APC, Sokoto) admonished that Nigeria should document and guard all her solid mineral resources to avoid unnecessary waste and leakages.
For Beni Lar (PDP, Plateau), although the tracking of solid mineral resources in Nigeria is irksome, unlike in the oil and gas sector, “time has come for the government to do the needful.”
However, Nnenna Ukeje and Sam Onuigbo (both PDP, Abia), implored the Federal Government to expedite action and block all noticeable revenue leakages in the solid mineral sector so as to put more money into government’s pocket.
After deliberations, the motion was unanimously adopted by the lawmakers.