The Zamfara Killings may have opened up a Pandora’s Box of strange doings in the Northern part of the Country, where illegal Mining has been taking place for ages with nothing coming out of it for the common good. And Zamfara is not alone in the natural endowment in solid minerals
Millions of Metric tones of Solid Minerals are to be found, not only in the North, but also in the southern part of the country. For example, apart from Gold found in Zamfara, it is also found in very large commercial quantities in Kaduna, Katsina and in lesser quantities in Cross River and Edo states. Borno State has Uranium in commercial quantities, and the whole Boko Haram ravaged belt is one of the most fertile Grains Belt in the world. Benue and Imo states have appreciable quantities of Shale that the Americans have found to be alternative to crude oil. Their processing of Shale has resulted in the decline of crude imports, thereby diminishing Nigerian crude market and forcing Nigeria to look towards China.
It is estimated that proceeds from solid minerals alone could triple the proceeds from Oil in no time, while providing jobs for millions of Nigerians. “But the retrogressive politics of the North will not allow it to happen”, says a source from one of the Chambers of Commerce in the Country. “For example, how come crude oil is owned by the whole country while the solid minerals proceeds goes to individual pockets?”, he queried.
Facts on ground seem to substantiate his claim. This Magazine was informed that Chinese nationals have been mining most of the solid minerals in the North. Sources told this magazine that all they needed to do is “Pay N20 million to the emir of the area in question and they mine the ores without molestation, and with nothing accruing to the country. i It is sad”, the source said. “Many of them have their licenses given to them by government agencies through the clandestine owners of these mines. And taxes are not paid on them by the miners”.
This Magazine had reported that the mines are owned by retired generals and Politicians.
President Buhari has stated that he will revoke the licenses of the “illegal” miners-an apparent contradiction in terms.
Unfortunately, in the South, mining of solid minerals cannot take place without Federal government approval. And the approvals are usually not forthcoming.
The source was informed of an investor who approached a southwest state governor whose state has large quantities of bitumen with a proposal for mining. He has the backing of an American firm. But the negotiations hit the rocks when the state government showed its helplessness because the federal Government did not approve. All Solid Minerals are meant to be Federal Property.
The major problem is that the Federal government is unwilling to do a prospecting of the exact quantity of Solid minerals because, according to analysts, it “serves their purpose not to”. Crude Oil prospecting was already done by the Multinational Companies and it is known what quantity of Crude in existence and how long it is expected to last. But no one knows the exact quantity of each of the close to forty different types of Solid minerals, including precious stones like Quartz, Columbite and amethyst. Hence while the government focuses on Oil, billionaires are being made daily at the expense of the country reeling in debt.