The Ministry of Interior said that 3,000 Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) personnel had been deployed to monitor mining sites nationwide to curb illegal mining operations.
Retired Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau, Minister of Interior, this this while receiving the two Ministers of Solid Minerals Development, Mr Kayode Fayemi and Alhaji Abubakar Bwari in Abuja.
He said the security agents would not only monitor illegal miners but would also fish out their sponsors, to achieve the diversification plan of Mr President from crude to solid minerals.
He said the ministry would add more security agents such as the Customs Services, Immigration to the NSCDC to monitor illegal exportation of minerals at the airports and borders.
According to him, there is need to fully support the solid minerals development because minerals would soon become the wealth of Nigeria.
“Illegal mining is not new to us, but we can curb it to enable legitimate people with licence to operate.
“We will increase our security agents to cover all the mining sites in 774 local government areas in Nigeria; we will do everything possible to secure our minerals.
“The illegal miners are even using people to traffic our minerals abroad,” he said.
He warned the security agents that would be deployed to different mining locations not to collaborate with illegal miners, as anyone found smuggling minerals would be treated as a criminal.
On expatriate quota given to foreign miners, he said the interior ministry would only issue them visas if their aims were genuine and approvals were given by the Ministry of Solid Minerals.
“Henceforth, the ministry of solid minerals development must be consulted on the numbers or foreigners applying for expatriate quota to Nigeria before issuing them visas.
Earlier, Mr Kayode Fayemi, Minister of Solid Minerals Development, said the visit was to strengthen the existing relationship of both ministries and for the interior ministry to help in mining sites surveillance.
Fayemi said the interior ministry had the capacity to assist the ministry to curb illegal miners, as they intruded into the lands allocated to licensed owners.
“The illegal miners are using different types of dangerous weapons to chase away our mining inspectors on the field.”
He said the ministry would train the security agents on how to identify different minerals to enable them to stop illegal exportation of minerals.
“We are going to train the security agents that will work for us to enable them to identify minerals such as gem stone and gold.
“We are not going to criminalise the illegal miners but we want them to form a cooperative for us to formalise and assist them.” (NAN)