The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has flayed the decision by the National Security Council to impose a nationwide ban on mining activities in the country in a bid to curb terrorist activities and disconnect them from their sources of funding. According to LCCI in a press statement made available to New Telegraph and signed by its Director General, Dr. Chinyere Almona, in Lagos recently, the Chamber expressed concerned over the unintended consequences the ban will have on the mining sector and the business environment in the long run at a time unemployment rate is increasing in the country. Almona explained that the Mining and Solid Minerals Group of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry understood that criminals use motorcycles as means of mobility and escape from the security agencies, adding that it was unacceptable to label the entire Nigerian mining ecosystem as sponsors of banditry and terrorism in Nigeria. Almona said: “This looks like an attempt to blame all legitimate mining operators for the activities of bandits and terrorists operating in Nigeria. The Nigerian mining industry employs several thousands in the formal and informal economy of Nigeria.
“Specifically, the artisanal and small-scale mining ecosystem accounts for at least 90 per cent of the activities in the mining sector; from granite quarrying, limestone mining, to base metals mining, limestone mining for cement production, sand mining, non-metallic industrial inputs for the paint and pharmaceutical industry, to mining of precious metals like gold; as well as gemstones mining. This announcement has further validated to foreign and local investors that it is unsafe for them to invest in Nigeria’s mining sector.” Speaking further, she explained that the existing local investors, who have secured loans to finance their mining projects across Nigeria, were at the risk of losing their investments of several years. According to her, the proposal has further damaged the diversification plans of the Federal Government to pursue a non-oil exportsbased economy. According to the CBN economic reports between 2015 to 2020, the total value of solid minerals exports within that period was $1.75 billion. She said: “We cannot afford to jeopardise the fortunes of mining in Nigeria with a blanket ban on mining activities when we should be able to isolate illegal miners and de-mobilise criminals from mining sites. “We urge government to reconsider ways to demobilise criminal activities from mining sites and create a safe environment where mining can thrive.”