By Obinna Unaeze
The Association of Gold Miners (Zone one) in Chanchaga Local Government area of Niger has appealed to the state government to organise the local miners professionally.
Mr Michael Abida, the Chairman of the association, made the call on Saturday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Minna.
He said that such gesture would make the miners to protect the environment in the course of their operation and contribute meaningfully to the society.
Abida said that the gesture would also expose the miners to modern techniques in mining and ensure that the artisans paid taxes to government.
The chairman said that the miners would surely pay back if government introduced them to modern mining techniques and provided equipment to them.
“We want government to organise us into corporative societies and train us on new methods of mining considering local content and issue licenses to us.
“We also appeal to government to provide us with locally fabricated machines so that in the end we will pay revenue to government and service our loans,’’ he said.
Abida said that in the past, the state government was not comfortable with illegal miners as they were arrested, but now there was no such thing.
“The government realised that right now many Nigerians are jobless, that is why they allowed us to help ourselves, but with a warning not to destroy the natural environment during our operations.’’
He said that sometimes he made “one to two points of gold per day and when you are lucky you make 10 points.”
The miner said that a point of gold was sold for N1,500 or at least N1,200.
Abida said that there were also marbles in Chanchaga River, the mining site, but no market for it yet.
The artisan miner, from Benue State, said he was born in 1949 and had been in the local mining business since 1984.
NAN recalls that the State Commissioner for Environment and Forestry, Alhaji Idris Amin, at a recent public function, said that the ministry would collaborate with the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) for a safer and quality environment.
According to Amin: “Since my appointment as the Commissioner of Environment and Forestry, I have been concerned with the way our environment has been degraded by artisanal miners and forest depleted by individuals and groups for fossil fuel in commercial quantity.”