The Federal Government has approved the deployment of additional 350 mining marshals to various parts of the country for effective safeguarding of the nation’s minerals resources.

This was as the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dele Alake, declared that the deployment of additional operatives to the mining marshals underscores the federal government’s commitment to reforming the mining sector.

It will be recalled that government early this year inaugurated the first batch of 2,220 mining marshals to secure mining sites.

According to the minister’s special assistant on media, Segun Tomori, over 200 illegal mining suspects have been arrested, with 133 prosecutions underway, and confiscated illegally mined minerals, forfeited to the federal government.

Speaking at the Passing Out Parade for the new operatives at the NSCDC headquarters in Abuja, the minister represented by the Permanent Secretary, Mary Ogbe lauded his interior counterpart, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps for their collaboration in combating illegal mining.

Highlighting the successes recorded by the mining marshals, the minister noted that their efforts have significantly reduced illegal mineral haulage and the activities of unlicensed operators nationwide.

“Today’s Passing Out Parade of the second batch will further increase our numbers, ensuring wider coverage and enhancing the operational effectiveness of the squad

“As we integrate and improve collaboration between mining marshals and Federal Mines Officers across the country, we aim to intensify sector sanitization and boost investor confidence, leading to increased investments and development in the mining industry,” Dr. Alake stated.

In his remarks, NSCDC Commandant-General, Abubakar Audi, revealed that the new operatives underwent an intensive 8-week training program, preparing them to strengthen the mining marshals’ operations and intensify efforts against illegal miners nationwide.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Solid Minerals Development Fund has affirmed its readiness to fully explore the abundant solid mineral resources within the country, aiming to ensure a substantial contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.

The assurance was provided in a statement signed by Idowu Jokpeyibo, Head of Corporate Communications on Friday following a training workshop organised to enhance the capacity of Nigerian geoscientists in utilising remote sensing technology for geological mapping and mineral exploration.

The one-day workshop held at the SMDF office in Abuja had in attendance the technical staff of SMDF joined by other technical officers from the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development and its agencies, such as the Council of Nigerian Mining Engineers and Geoscientists among others.

Jokpeyibo said the training followed a Memorandum of Understanding with the GeoScan GmbH of Berlin, Germany to advance the Exploration and Development of Nigerian Critical Minerals using innovative proprietary technology.

This happened during the German Chancellor’s visit to the country in October 2023.

During the workshop anchored by an image processing specialist, Neil Pendock, participants were equipped with ample knowledge of remote sensing technology.

The expert pointed out that the technology is a cost-saving measure which has been in use by the world’s best-known mining nations like Australia, Canada and South Africa.

Pendock added that the training for the Nigerian solid minerals sector would lead to the provision of high-quality geoscience data needed to make Nigeria a global destination for mining investment.

He said in saving exploration costs, Remote Sensing Imagery would also save time compared with the length of time needed when regular exploration methods are used stressing that, “It will place Nigeria at great advantage as it will save the country huge costs in mineral exploration.”

Pendock with over 40 years’ experience in remote sensing practice said Remote Sensing Imagery is a more efficient method of mineral exploration that can be used to address Nigeria’s illegal mining challenges, saying that it could remotely pick activity images via satellite.

He stated that Nigeria, boasting a stable democracy and abundant mineral resources, could effectively compete with other similarly endowed nations, provided its data was organized transparently using remote sensing technology—a goal he deemed readily achievable and urged the government to prioritise environmentally friendly mining practices to bolster investment.

Pendock further emphasised the importance of thermal data in geological mapping, noting that it can help identify mineral deposits undercover and beneath vegetation.

“Thermal data is very useful because it works at night when the rocks cool down and release thermal energy, allowing us to detect different minerals, even those that are undercover or beneath vegetation.”

He said that many mineral deposits remain undiscovered due to inadequate geological mapping, resulting in lost opportunities for economic growth and development.

Speaking on the essence of the workshop, the Head of the Mineral Exploration Department, SMDF, Mr Kefas Malgwi, said the training is timely and would improve the nation’s exploration activities and enable it to discover world-class deposits that would attract investors.

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