The federal government has discovered about 1,260 abandoned mining sites in the country.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite said about 25 sites have been recovered from 2007 since the programme started.
The abandoned sites, he said, are useful sometimes because they form artificial lakes especially in dry season farming for those areas where they used to be.
Adegbite also said they constitute dangers to people because, in some places, vegetation grows over them and people get stuck when they mistakenly fall into them.
The Minister said these on Tuesday in Abuja at the pre-event press briefing for the Nigerian Mining week, which commences next week.
He said: “We will surpass what oil and gas is doing for Nigeria. If we get the work right, we will surpass the earnings from oil and gas. Mining is not an immediate thing and it needs a lot of inputs.
“In the 60s, mining was the main thing of the Nigerian economy. At that time, we were very good on coal and tin mining from Jos and all that. Nigeria was recognised for that, for commodities but I think with the advent of oil and gas, a lot of people abandoned mines.
“The ministry took cautious support and when they conducted inventories of abandoned mining sites, as of the last count, there were 1260 abandoned sites. Now, every year we make provision for the recovery of these mining sites, these mining sites are like a two exploit.
“At times they are useful because they form artificial lakes, water gets collected in them and this water becomes useful especially in dry season farming for those areas where they use them. Stating that they also constitute dangers to people because in some places, vegetation has grown and you don’t know there is a hole there. If you fall into that, it is almost impossible to get out.
“It’s a continuous process reclaiming this abandoned sites, because when they are recovered, they almost spoil soil base for farming and I think so far, the ministry has been able to recover 25 sites from 2007 that the programme started.
“We have been able to get about 25 but in our budget every year, we also try to put money for reclaiming abandoned mining sites. We do get some money. We must say that 25 to 1260 is a far cry but it’s a start and we would continue on that,” Adegbite said.
Nigeria’s Head Advisory/Mining Leader, Price Water Cooper (PwC) Mr Cyril Azobu, informed that the event with the theme, “Removing the roadblocks along the value chain: Setting the mining industry as a key driver for economic growth” is in continuation in the implementation of the road map by the new ministers, albeit with adjustments and enhancements made to certain aspects to ensure the targets that have been set therein are met.
He said that no fewer than 1,200 mining experts, 180 mines and exploration companies and 24 countries are set to grace the conference.