ARTISANAL mining, also known as small-scale mining, is a type of mining that involves the extraction of minerals using simple equipment and manual labour. Artisanal mining has been a significant source of livelihood for millions of people in developing countries, including Nigeria. The potential of artisanal mining to develop Nigeria is enormous, and if properly harnessed, it can contribute significantly to the country’s economic growth and development.
Nigeria is blessed with abundant mineral resources such as gold, tin, lead, zinc, copper and other precious and base metals. These minerals are found in different parts of the country, with some of them occurring in large quantities. However, despite the abundance of these mineral resources, Nigeria’s mining sector remains largely untapped, with only a few large-scale mining companies operating in the country.
One of the major challenges facing the mining sector in Nigeria is the lack of adequate funding and support for small-scale miners. Artisanal miners often work in unsafe and unregulated conditions, using rudimentary equipment and techniques that are inefficient and harmful to the environment. These conditions make it difficult for artisanal miners to compete with large-scale mining companies and make a decent living from their mining activities.
However, there is a growing recognition of the potential of artisanal mining to contribute to Nigeria’s economic development. The Nigerian government has recently taken steps to support and regulate the artisanal mining sector by providing funding, training, and technical support to small-scale miners. The government has also introduced policies aimed at improving the regulatory framework for the sector, such as the establishment of the Nigerian Mining Cadastre Office (NMCO) and the adoption of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act of 2007.
Artisanal mining has the potential to provide employment opportunities for millions of people in Nigeria, particularly in rural areas where other forms of employment are scarce. Artisanal mining can also contribute to poverty reduction and the improvement of living standards for communities involved in mining activities. Artisanal mining activities can also stimulate the growth of other economic sectors such as transportation, hospitality, and trade, leading to the development of small and medium-sized enterprises.
In addition to providing economic benefits, artisanal mining can also contribute to the sustainable development of Nigeria. Artisanal miners are often involved in reforestation and land restoration activities, which can help to reduce the impact of mining on the environment. The use of simple equipment and techniques in artisanal mining can also reduce the use of harmful chemicals and promote sustainable mining practices.
In conclusion, artisanal mining has the potential to contribute significantly to the development of Nigeria. However, to realize this potential, the Nigerian government must continue to support and regulate the sector. The government should also provide access to finance, training, and technical support to small-scale miners. If properly harnessed, artisanal mining can provide employment opportunities, promote sustainable development, and contribute to Nigeria’s economic growth and development.
Akintunde Boboye, Valiant Mines Nigeria Limited, Ilesa Osun State.