The Federal Government yesterday said in 2014 and 15, Nigeria lost about $9bn to illegal mining.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Kayode Fayemi, who addressed State House reporters after the cabinet meeting, quoted a report released by the Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative.
The minister said the loss is from such illegally exported items as gold, lead, zinc, tin and coal.
He said if Nigeria could stop the spate of illegal activities by Nigerians and their foreign collaborators, the revenue from the sector would significantly improve.
He said the Federal Executive Council approved N987m for the procurement of 50 Hilux vehicles to enable the special mines taskforce to monitor and curb illegal mining activities in all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
Fayemi said each vehicle would be purchased for N19.3 million.
He stated: “The Special Mines Surveillance Task Force is made up of all security agencies. The DSS, the Police, the Civil Defence, EFCC and the National Security Adviser’s Office.
“You may be aware that over the course of last year, the police have established Mines Police and we now have a Commissioner of Police in-charge of Mines Police. We have a Commandant from the Civil Defence also exclusively deployed for mines activities.
“If we can stop the spate of illegal activities, not just by Nigerians but by Nigerians in collaboration with some foreigners, we will significantly improve the revenue that comes from that sector, increase the contributions to GDP, increase the royalty to government and also provide more jobs for our people.”
The minister said another effort towards reducing illegal and informal activities was the formalisation of small scale miners and artisan miners.