The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed for the second reading, a bill to establish a School of Mines and Geological Studies in Edo as part of economy diversification efforts.
Leading debate on the bill, the sponsor, Peter Akpatason (Edo-APC), said that Nigeria was endowed with large deposit of solid minerals, including Lime Stone, Gemstones, Kaolin, Tin and Iron ore.
He said that mining currently accounted for a paltry 0.3 per cent of Nigeria's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
According to Akpatason, it is imperative for Nigeria at this critical moment to establish the school of Mines and Geological studies to provide necessary research and professional bases to diversify the economy which is long overdue.
``Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of Edo State is blessed with several mineral resources in commercial value such as calcite, gold and mud stone.
``Presently, over 30 companies are engaged in mining operations and activities in Akoko-Edo with over 5,000, mainly causal workers, in their employment.
``Over 95 per cent of these workers are unskilled; they generate low revenue due to poor technology and their operations create excessive pollution.
``This is reason a school of mines and geological studies is needed to increase the efficiency, output and productivity.
``It will also preserve the environment by providing the industry with adequate number of technically trained engineers, mining engineering technicians and environmental scientist,’’ he said.
In his contribution, Minority Leader of the house, Leo Ogor said ``rather than rely on oil, this is a wake-up call to diversify the economy.’’
Rep. Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje (Abia-PDP) said that the bill was in line with the present situation of Nigeria in terms of dwindling oil prices in the global market.
In his remarks, Speaker of the house, Yakubu Dogara, announced that the bill had been referred to the Committee on Solid Minerals for ``further legislative input.’’
The lawmakers also passed a resolution inviting all stakeholders in the process of mapping, licensing, mining and exportation of solid minerals in order to determine the extent of compliance with Mining Act, 2007.
They will also ascertain the data and value of exploited and exported solid minerals and where it is located.
This followed a motion by Rep. Lovette Idisi (Delta-PDP) who noted that illegal mining and exportation of gold and barites were going on in the country.
According to him, this act is in clear violation of Section 7 of the Act.
He stressed the need for anyone wishing to export solid minerals to obtain a permit.