Nigeria’s Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite says gold has been discovered along the Abuja, Nasarawa axis through the National Integrated Mineral Exploration Project, NIMEP, programme undertaken by the ministry.
The Minister added that the NIMEP project, which had cost the ministry N15 billion had generated geoscience data that had foreign investors excited about the mining prospects in the country.
He however expressed caution in saying that the ministry was resolved to avoid a repeat of the Zamfara experience in Nasarawa State, in which bandits were largely in charge of the gold mining in that state.
Adegbite, during his visit to the governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Sule, assured him of the ministry’s intention to develop the mineral resources in the state.
“Nasarawa State is the home of solid minerals in the country. We had an earlier discussion about recent discoveries of precious minerals along the Nasarawa, Abuja axis. As you probably might be aware, we have been talking about this for a while; there is a programme we call NIMEP executed by the ministry where the government has put about N15 billion into exploration for minerals, one of which is gold, and we have done this exploration over the country and have discovered a very nice track of gold deposits especially between Abuja and Nasarawa where we share borders.”
Adegbite equally allayed the concerns of the Nasarawa State Government about the menace of illegal gold mining snowballing in the state due to the large deposits of gold in the state.
“We know that gold mining attracts a lot of undesirables. Wherever these people smell gold, if I may use the word smell, whenever they have an inkling that there is gold, it somehow attracts these undesirable elements. It always follows that we have illegality developing around there. However, we are working hard to nip these in the bud. We don’t want banditry to come to Nasarawa and Abuja on the trail of gold as it has unfortunately happened in Zamfara.”
He also explained that the federal government had reiterated its ban on gold mining in Zamfara due to banditry.
Adegbite added that the ministry had a special mines police that was saddled with curbing the menace of illegal mining in the country.
“We will be working with security agencies, possibly bringing in the military to make sure that we prevent such an occurrence of illegal mining in this axis of Nasarawa and the Federal Capital Territory. So, I have been talking with the governor and we are going to involve security apparatus.”
In his response, the Nasarawa State governor, Engineer Abdullahi Suke said that the state was prepared to work with the ministry to prevent the snowballing of illegal mining in the state, revealing that his administration was indeed concerned about the threat of illegal mining and its associated vices.
“Let me thank the minister for the wonderful reception he has accorded us and we are also thankful for the NIMEP programme undertaken by the federal government. We strongly believe that the future of this country is mineral and not necessary in oil and gas. God has blessed Nigeria with minerals in every state; that is why in Nasarawa State we are taking mining very seriously, we are working very hard to ensure the safety of the mining site and to ensure that wherever mining activity is going on in Nasarawa, it is going on legally,” he said.
The governor revealed that despite experiencing some form of illegal mining of gold in the area called Uke, that it had indeed attracted some respectable companies who were mining legally in the state.