Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Miners in Nigeria under the umbrella of Miners Association of Nigeria on Friday, took their grievances over multiple taxes and disruption of mining activities by state government agencies to President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
This is even as they have described multiple taxation as an impediment for successful mining operation in the country.
National President of the Association, Sani Shehu, who led the delegation to the President, while speaking with State House Correspondents, commended Buhari for giving matching orders to the concerned authorities in government to articulate the miners concerns and present as memo in order for him to action.
He mentioned the challenges the miners were facing in the sector to include interference, poor funding, lack of proper mechanization for operations and multiple taxation.
Shehu said the association has proposed fiscal regime for the mining sector so that all payment will be synchronized into one.
He said following the favourable response they got at the audience with President, the association has decided to be the eyes and ears of the government, to bring to its attention anything in the sector that is contrary to the law as regards mining operations to ensure things are done right.
The Minister of State for Mines and Steel, Bawa Bwari, on his part said the government is committed to encouraging mining activities in the country, said President Buhari has assured the miners that the administration will look into their plights.
According Bwari, “The miners Association of Nigeria seek for a courtesy call to Mr. President and he granted it. This is historic because this is the first time Miners Association of Nigeria has been received by a president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“They came to commend the president for what we have done in the mining sector. Government is putting in place some incentives that are encouraging mining activities in Nigeria.
“They came to show their appreciation and also to complain about what they are encountering, especially in states where state governments are charging them multiple taxes and some of their activities are disrupted by state government agencies. In fact, sometimes their mines are closed down.
“This, we are talking with the state governments involved. We intend to take up this matter at the National Economic Council (NEC); where state governments should know their limits and they should know they are also beneficiaries of whatever mining activities is going on because, 13 percent derivation is supposed to go to state governments for mining activities taking place there.”
The minister noted that government has recorded major achievements in the mining sector, noting in particular the mining of high quality led in Bauchi State among others.
“For example, we have a company called Symbol Mining. It has started modern mining in Bauchi. It is mining Led at 32 percent grade compared to the world average of 6 percent. This is a good development for Nigeria because mining is structured in such a way that any discovery like that will attract bigger mining to come to Nigeria,” Bwari said.
Underscoring the importance of mining to Nigeria, he said: “We have no choice than to encourage mining for one reason; our population. When you consider our population and you discover that we have more than 44 minerals cutting across all the 774 local governments, this will create activities and create opportunities for our teeming population.”