-BY INWALOMHE DONALD
Edo State Solid Minerals today are monopolized by FREEDOM GROUP, GOLDEN GIRL and Goopex Nigeria Ltd. They have taken over the solid mineral deposits in Edo North even when they are not involved in mining. They acquired mineral deposits and lease to other companies. FREEDOM GROUP controls Ikpeshi, GOLDEN GIRL controls Atte and Uneme while Goopex Nigeria Ltd controls Egbigele. Also , they encourage illegal miners by sub letting the various deposits to quark miners who give them commission in return.
Available records have it that many factories in the same area and resort to buying crude from these illegal miners since there is no availability of vacant deposit. This goes a long way in minimizing the number of people employed by these factories.
I have spotted foul play in the computation and payment of royalties by the operators in the Edo’s solid minerals sector.
Edo has lost huge amount of money to faulty royalty payments in the solid minerals sector, The benchmark used for the calculation of royalty payments are not the current market value in the solid minerals sector.
The amount used for the calculations of royalty payment for all mineral deposits were long overdue for review.
I want to highlight the monopoly of construction companies in quarry sites and mining companies as part of the challenges of the sector.
I want to blame the leakage of royalty payment on the lack of synergy among the federal and state mining departments allowing illegal mining to flourish.
From available records of Central Bank of Nigeria, companies exported metric tonnes of minerals. Despite the fact that solid mineral were being mined across EDO State, there is no record to show that these minerals are among the mined or exported minerals. Further finding shows that minerals are mined in Edo state, there are no record of royalty payments.
From the available records of the Ministry of Solid Minerals, there were no evidences of royalty payment on these exported minerals. The Nigeria Minerals and Mining Act 2007 requires that any exporter of solid minerals must request for permit to export minerals. But in defiance to the Act, there was no available evidence of request for permit or approval to export minerals by the companies.
The informal players are mostly artisan miners, medium scale operators and illegal miners who hardly keep any record. Some of the minerals mined in EDO are exported out of the country by both formal and informal players. There are no official records from ministry of Solid Minerals on the actual volume of minerals exported out of EDO between 2011 and 2014.
The exploitation and exploration of solid minerals are governed by The Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act 2007 (“the Act”) which was passed into law on March 16, 2007 to repeal the Minerals and Mining Act, No. 34 of 1999. The Act vests control of all properties and minerals in Nigeria in the states and prohibits unauthorised exploration or exploitation of minerals.
According to the Act, all lands in which minerals have been found in commercial quantities shall from the commencement of the Act be acquired by the Federal Government in accordance with the Land Use Act. Property in mineral resources shall pass from the government to the person by whom the mineral resources are lawfully won upon their recovery in accordance with provisions of the Act.