By Gift Chapi Odekina
The House of Representatives on Thursday, resolved to investigate the loss of revenue from leakages estimated at N8 trillion from the illegal mining of gold and other solid mineral resources that abound in the country.
The probe is to be carried out by an ad hoc committee looking at irregularities in the nation’s mining sector in the last five years, including the efforts of the ministry of mines and steel development in curtailing and tracking the movement of minerals within, and outside the country.
This resolution by the House is sequel to the adoption of the motion sponsored by Rep. Ehiozuwa Agbonayinma, on the need to diversify from reliance on oil revenue to alternative sources of revenue to cushion the effects of dwindling oil revenue.
In his lead debate on the motion, Rep. Agbonayinma described the mining sector as a key driver in national economic development as Nigeria has the fourth largest reserve of bitumen globally as well as having the second largest iron ore deposits in Africa, apart from its abundant coal resources.
He lamented that the nation’s mining industry is under – utilized, leading to the importation of minerals that could be locally produced.
According to the House member from Edo state, reports by Signal One International, a United States based firm in 2016, the nation lost $50 billion in gold revenue tax over the last two years through illegal mining and exports of unprocessed gold.
The lawmaker added that the former Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Kayode Fayemi, identified inadequate tracking as the key challenge to effectively monitor revenue leakages in the mining sector.
Agbonayinma expressed worry that reports from the “Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) indicated that between 2014 and 2015, the country lost an estimated $9 billion to illegal mining operations and through gold exports.
The current average price of gold at the international market is $1, 200 per ounce, he added, meaning that the nation lost $4, 233. 400
per day and $1, 544, 826. 000 per annum since a kilogram of gold is equal to 35. 27 ounces.