The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), has called on African countries to formulate policy and regulatory framework to formalise the operations of Artisanal and Small Scale Miners (ASM) in the continent.
Jean Bakole, UNIDO Regional Director and Country Representative for Nigeria and ECOWAS, made the call on Thursday in Abuja at the National Mining Summit and CONMIN West Africa.
The theme three of the days summit is, “Unearthing Nigeria’s Mining Sector.”
Bakole said that formalising their operations would give ASM access to services and incentives, technologies, finance and business development skills among others.
He added that it would also engender collaboration between governments, ASM and players in the sector and ensure effective monitoring of the sub-sector.
The UN official said that formalizing the operations of ASM would help to coordinate the efforts of clustering miner groups into modern cooperatives.
He pointed out that it would also assist them access government tax holiday incentives, generate income and create jobs.
“It will help to regulate the requirements for health and safety, improved market access and environmental protection,’’ he said.
He said that special tax regimes were needed to encourage investments in ASM while regional harmonisation of taxes, royalties and fees might be considered.
The regional director stressed the need to review and develop value chain in the mining industry to bring out the benefits of ASM mining sub-sector in enhancing economic growth.
He disclosed that some minerals exported from African countries were recently rejected by the European Union due to the issue of child labour and stressed the need for the issue to be urgently addressed by African governments.
“This is one the issues of global concern affecting the mining sectors in Africa; where huge quantity of products from the sector are not accepted in the global market due to child labour.”
Bakole urged the Nigerian government to make data of its minerals available to local and foreign investors in the sector.
He explained that accurate data would go a long way to determine the availability and quantity of minerals in the country.
He promised that UNIDO would assist Nigeria to train and build the capacity of miners in the country.
He said that the organisation would also assist the country in promoting technology transfer and best environmental practices.
UNIDO is a specialised agency of the United Nations established to promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation in developing countries.