FEDERAL Governmnet has commenced moves aimed at making it an offence for anyone to take unauthorised, unprocessed minerals out of the country. The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi disclosed this in Lagos at a Town Hall meeting with Stakeholders in the mining Sector. According to a statement issued yesterday by his S.A Media, Olayinka Olyebode, Dr Fayemi stated that government was aware of activities of smugglers in the country. “Taking out unprocessed minerals under any guise is unacceptable and we have taken a firm position on this. “We will make it difficult for anybody to take out unprocessed minerals. We are working with the Customs and other relevel security agencies to put an end to this. “We will support and encourage operators to set up plants, process the minerals here and you can then export it.” He said. Fayemi noted that some foreign nationals who take out of the country’s unprocessed minerals through illegal routes are constantly denying the Nigeria of revenue accrued to it through its vast mineral endowment. The Minister agreed with stakeholders at the meeting that the activities of some foreigners who take out unprocessed minerals had robbed the youth of the country of massive job opportunities in the sector. He said the ministry is working with the Customs services and other relevant security agencies to make it illegal for anyone to take out unprocessed minerals. Fayemi said while unauthorised export of unprocessed minerals is injurious to the economic plan of the government said the ministry’s current focus is to ensure that operators set up plants in the country, process the minerals and can then export the finished product. The Minister added that the economic diversification and employment generation can only be realised with operators cooperating with government on the mining policy. Speaking further, the Minister said government is taking the security of mines more seriously, adding that a special task force has been put in place to check nefarious activities in mining sites and also to ensure compliance with environmental and security regulations. He announced that the Nigerian Police has responded to the security issue with the establishment of Mines Division in all its state commands.