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Nigeria: Government sets up new armed unit to fight illegal mining

Tuesday, 05 March 2024 15:19
Nigeria: Government sets up new armed unit to fight illegal mining

(Ecofin Agency) - Illegal mining is a major problem in Nigeria. The Buhari regime had made it a priority. So has the Tinubu regime. Still, efforts to tackle the issue have shown limitations, thus calling for new measures. 

Nigeria is setting up a new armed unit to fight illegal mining nationwide. The news, announced on March 1, comes after years of unfruitful efforts to deal with the issue, efficiently.

The new unit, the "Mining Marshals," is under the authority of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). According to various local media outlets, its members will be dispatched to all 1,975 illegal mining sites identified across the country. The Mining Marshals will join existing forces that fight illegal mining in Nigeria.

Several analysts, however, believe that repression alone is insufficient to eradicate illegal mining. An ECOWAS report released in February 2024 stressed the need to formalize artisanal mining by promoting the creation of cooperatives or establishing official mining zones. Nigeria could also follow Ghana’s example. After years of repression against illegal miners, Ghana opted for alternatives.

These include creating employment insertion programs for miners who want to switch occupations or formalizing mining activities for those who wish to continue. In the latter case, Ghana notably provides mining equipment that allows for gold production with less environmental impact, particularly by no longer using mercury, a toxic substance used in gold processing.

Despite having vast reserves of gold, coal, and iron ore, mining contributes less than 1% of Nigeria’s GDP. Integrating illegal miners into official channels could help increase this share.

Emiliano Tossou



Public Management

ECOFIN AGENCY offers a selection of articles translated from AGENCE ECOFIN. Founded in 2011, Agence Ecofin is a leader in Francophone Pan-African economic news, particularly in West and Central Africa. The agency publishes daily news on nine African economic sectors: Public Management, Finance, ICT, Agribusiness, Energy, Mining, Transport & Logistics, Communication, and Training.

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