Several quarries were shut down for non-compliance.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mohammed Sada, said the Federal Government had withdrawn over 600 mining and extractive licences of companies that failed to comply with its rules and regulations.
Mr. Sada made this known on Wednesday in Abuja during the presentation of 2013 Annual Report and audited account of Council of Nigerian Mining Engineers and Geoscientists, COMEG.
The minister said the Federal Government was ready to ensure that the sector operated in accordance with international best practice.
He said the government took the decision during his visits to some of the quarries where it was discovered that the operators were violating the rules and regulations guiding their operations.
“We have carried out audit exercise in some of the quarry sites where one of the so called engineers, who is not even qualified, was performing about four or five functions. If you want to establish a quarry, you must have the capacity to employ the right personnel. We have to withdraw the licences of some of them because of the non-compliance to the rules.
“In the last exercise, we withdrew over 600 licences of companies who failed to adhere to the rules of the game. We closed some quarries because of not making use of the right personnel. We have had the cause to withdraw some other licences, especially those working around Abuja,” he said.
The minister said government had also put in place the structures that would ensure that certain level of employment belong to Nigeria.
“We will not allow companies to just bring in anybody. We closed some quarries because of that. When we got to a company, we discovered that only two Nigerians were working with about 14 Chinese. We found out that these two Nigerians were basically doing almost all the work, so we asked the company to close shop until we were able to take the census of their staffing,” he disclosed.
Mr. Sada, who warned the operators to comply with the regulations of the sector or face sanctions, said the exercise would continue until the sector was completely sanitised.
The Chairman of COMEG, Chambers Oyibo, while briefing the minister on the audit, said the exercise revealed that most of the audited companies were not registered with COMEG.
He said most of them did not have COMEG registered relevant professionals in their employment to undertake quarrying and blasting operations.
According to him, some companies in the North-West zone have only one mining engineer employed to carry out blast operations in three or more states.
Mr. Oyibo said these activities contravene the regulations and have resulted to over proliferation of people handling explosives and could lead to insecurity.