Solid Minerals Areas Development Commission Bill Passes Second Reading
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Bill for an Act to establish the Solid Minerals Areas Development Commission (SMDC) in Nigeria that will address environmental devastation and scaled second reading at the Senate on Tuesday.
The bill seeks to provide for the accelerated development of the Nigerian solid minerals sector in a bid to diversify the Nigerian economy and reduce the over-dependence on the dwindling oil revenues.
The bill was read for the first time in the Senate on Wednesday, May 5, 2021, and was sponsored by Mr Yakubu Oseni.
Leading the debate on the bill, Mr Oseni observed 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.
Specifically, the lawmaker further revealed 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 need for the bill, he argued that when passed into law, it will provide the template for the formulation of policies and guidelines for the development of mineral producing areas in the country.
“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,” the lawmaker submitted.
He said according to 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 the majority of deaths and diseases associated with mass poisoning incidents from these operations.
Following the end of the debate, the Senate leadership referred the bill to its committee on solid minerals, giving it a time frame to report back in four weeks.