A Bill for an Act to establish Solid Minerals Areas Development Commission bill, which was sponsored by Senator Yakubu Oseni, passed second reading in the Senate on Tuesday.
The bill is seeking to address environmental devastation occasioned by minerals exploitation through a commission
In his lead debate during the plenary, Senator Oseni pointed out that there will be a provision for accelerated development of the minerals sector in the Federal Republic of Nigeria in order to diversify the Nigerian economy and boost revenues.
The lawmaker, while imploring his colleagues to give maximum support to the bill, added that the country is richly endowed with a variety of solid minerals of various categories ranging from precious metals to various precious stones and industrial minerals.
He emphasised that the sector offers “a viable alternative to petroleum for foreign exchange earnings”.
The lawmaker further noted that “globally, the mining industry has been a close rival to the petroleum industry, while Nigeria only earns a paltry $89 million per annum from it.
“The commercial value of Nigeria’s solid minerals has been estimated to run into hundreds of billions of dollars”.
Justifying the bill, Senator Oseni argued that the bill when passed into law will provide template for formulation of policies and guidelines for the development of the mineral producing areas.
He continued: “Conception, planning and implementation in accordance with set rules and regulations, of projects and programmes for sustainable development of the minerals producing areas in the field of transportation including roads, health, employment, industrialization, agriculture among others”.
He said according the United Nations Environmental (UNEP), small-scale gold processing operations in developing countries employ one million children, stressing that children, who are more susceptible to the impacts of heavy metals, tend to have higher exposures and generally account for majority of deaths and diseases associated with mass poisoning incidents from these operations.
DAILY POST recalls that the bill was first read on the floor of the Senate on 5th May, 2021.
After contributions by other Senators in support of the bill, Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan referred the bill to the Senate Committee on Solid minerals to turn in their report in four weeks time.