The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has registered about 630 artisanal miners (illegal miners) across the country from 2010 till date.
Mr Patrick Ojeka, Director, Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (ASM) Department in the ministry, made this known on Wednesday in Abuja.
Ojeka said the registration of artisanal miners became imperative so that government could integrate them into the small scale mining category to enable them to access loans and other benefits.
“We registered them to enable government to have a reference point of contacting them as and at when needed.
“This is to enable them to become small scale miners and have access to loans to improve their mining activities.
“It is the responsibility of government to mainstream the activities of artisanal miners, register them and formalize them into small scale mining level,” he said.
He said there were 780 outstanding applications to be processed into cooperatives as the ministry followed due process.
Ojeka said that out of the figure, more than 100 of them have been fully integrated into small scale mining with licenses.
The director said paucity of fund had hindered the department from conducting its field exercise.
He said however that with the release of part of the mining intervention funds recently, the ministry would soon commence field operations.
Ojeka hinted that the ASM department would collaborate with the mines inspectorate and other departments in the ministry to have comprehensive data of artisanal and small scale operators across the country.
Amaka E. Nliam