NATIONAL POLICY ON SOLID MINERALS AND METALS
An established and well managed solid minerals sub-sector will accelerate economic, social and political growth of Nigeria by provision of gainful employment and a rise in national income earnings far exceeding the petroleum sector. In addition, solid minerals will provide local raw materials for industries and bring vital infrastructure and wealth to rural areas. Solid minerals have capacity to provide the all important launching pad for the development of other sectors of the economy as well as give sense and meaning to the oneness of the Nigerian state as minerals are located in all states of the Federation. This will douse the agitation for resource control. It is therefore vital that the nation explores this latent potential which has slumbered over the years.
Solid minerals contributed immensely to the economic development of Nigeria in the pre-independence years. During this period, Nigeria was known for the production of coal as an energy source for electricity, railways and also for export. Tin, Columbite, Lead and Zinc were exported. Nigeria was the largest producer of Columbite at one point. The earnings from solid minerals, were used to develop roads, education, hospitals and in fact develop the petroleum industry.
The decline of the solid minerals industry started with the discovery of oil to an extent that Nigeria became a mono product economy and vulnerable to international oil politics. The domineering role of oil did not allow past
governments to attend to global challenges that evolved in the development of solid minerals.
The neglect of the minerals industry led to disorder in the minesfield with strong presence of illegal miners whose activities are characterized by inefficient mining, illegal trading of highly priced minerals, severe ecological degradation, spread of diseases and huge loss of revenue to the government through smuggling.