Mr Musa Sada, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, said the review of the Explosives Act 1964 and Regulations 1967 had become imperative.
Sada spoke when he presented the draft copy on the review of the draft explosives act and regulations at a Stakeholders’ Forum in Abuja on Tuesday.
He said the review was needed to enhance mineral exploration since the use of explosives was indispensable in the exploitation of minerals, oil well logging, construction materials and exploration services.
He said the illicit use of explosives by unauthorised persons posed a security threat to the country to the disadvantage of the mining sector.
The minister said that the explosives business and legitimate application of the product in the mines, quarry, construction and oil industry, had faced critical security challenges.
He said the challenges emanated from its illicit use by insurgents in the manufacture of improvised explosive devices.
“However, because of the determination of the ministry to ensure that our operational activities are not completely sacrificed at the altar of this security concern, emergency reforms and measures are periodically adopted. The measures adopted are in line with the power conferred on the ministry to make regulations with respect to explosives as considered expedient for the purpose of maintaining public safety’’, he said.
He said the ministry had taken critical steps to encourage the establishment of local manufacturing explosive plants to provide more jobs, conserve foreign exchange and enhance national security.
“We shall endeavour to provide the enabling environment to facilitate the growth of this highly capital intensive project.
he explosives business worldwide is capital-intensive and sensitive to national security.’’
He enjoined dealers of commercial explosives, importers and end-users to operate by the rules.
Sada said the ministry was collaborating with the Office of the National Security Adviser, Department of State Services and the Police to ensure that unauthorised persons did not have access to explosives.
“For those willing to become development partners, they will receive a lot of encouragements from the government, as long as they conduct their businesses within the enabling laws and regulations.’’
He listed critical areas that needed to be highlighted in the draft as classification of Ammonium Nitrates as explosives as well as offences and sanctions to curtail proliferation and abuse of its use.
Others are the use of explosives in underground mining operations; the exportation of explosives, fortified concrete built magazines with security features and adoption of seamless online processing end user certificate platforms.
He urged the stakeholders to contribute their inputs to the draft before the onward presentation of the final copy to the Ministry of Justice and the Federal Executive Council for consideration.
Alhaji Baba Faruk, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, emphasised the need to update the act and regulations to address lapses and enhance national security.
He noted that the 1964 Explosives Act and its 1967 Regulations had been in operation in the country for the last four decades.
Faruk, represented by Mr Samuel Oluwale, the Director of Human Resources in the ministry, said the forum would place the mining sector in the national scheme and fast-track solid minerals development.
He said “Section 1 of the 1964 act and its regulations empowers the ministry to regulate and control the manufacture, importation, exportation, sales, transportation, storage and use of civil explosives.’’
He urged the participants to draw from their wealth of experience to enrich the document so that “when it eventually becomes law, it will stand the test of time.’’ (NAN)