KADUNA – (Federal Ministry of Mines & Steel Development Report) – Stakeholders in the mining sector at the end of a 3-day Council meeting in Kaduna, North Central Nigeria have developed new strategies that would successfully transform the sector and help realise Nigeria’s ambition in driving domestic industrialization.
The report issued from the Publicity Department of the Ministry recently indicated that the resolution was one of the decisions from the 3 days meeting of the National Council on Mining and Mineral Resources Development which held in Kaduna. It disclosed that the meeting with the theme: “Minerals and Metals Sector: Frontier for National Economic Diversification had stakeholders all over the federation in attendance.
Speaking at the close of the Council Meeting, the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Abubakar Bawa Bwari said that the event signals another milestone in Government’s efforts to re-position the sector.
“This Council provides an excellent forum where stakeholders converge for policy formulation and validation, while also acting as professional advisory for Government in pursuing its broad mandates of economic diversification, job creation as well as increasing its revenue base,” he stated. He further noted that it is the responsibility of the Ministry to bring key players together periodically, in order to fully maximise the benefits of the sector to the national economy and unlock its potentials.
Abubakar Bwari explained that most of the decisions agreed on at the last Council Meeting have been implemented. Adding, inputs from the Council along with the sector’s roadmap have succeeded in mobilising critical stakeholders to work in synergy with Government at all levels for the growth of the sector.
He continued that the current administration has been able to turn things around for the sector, stressing that funding has improved as the Ministry has been able to access part of the sector’s 30 Billion Naira Intervention Fund as well as commenced the restructuring of the Solid Minerals Development Fund and providing single digit interest loans to artisanal, small and medium-scale miners.
On the issue of the perennial problem of lack of geosciences data necessary to attract investment into the sector, the Minster informed that the current administration recently awarded contracts to notable international companies for an integrated exploration programme targeted at providing geosciences data. He hinted that the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA) has acquired two high quality rigs that would ensure improved evaluation of mineral deposits.
He listed the recent achievements of the Ministry to include: upgrade in the national minerals database, review of the explosives act and checking out the cases of explosives proliferation as well as pilfering and diversion in partnership with the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA). Also executed was the automation and upgrade of the Mining Cadastre System Project at the Mining Cadastre Office (MCO) to ensure a seamless process for obtaining exploration licenses, permits and approvals for willing and credible investors.
He also disclosed that the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA) has signed and operationalised MoUs and Technical Cooperation Agreements with the China Geological Surveys to commence the regional geochemical mapping of parts of the country to unearth new deposits. These and other collaborations, he noted are intended to leverage on the expertise and state-of-the-art technologies of these organisations in assisting Nigeria to generate investor – friendly geosciences data. He acknowledged that though the Ministry has made appreciable progress since the last Council Meeting, there were critical challenges hindering the country from realising her full potentials in the sector.
He later espoused that the Ministry in the last one year has been inundated with petitions and complains of state ministries and agencies shutting mining operations for non-payment of fees that are generally considered double taxation. He also observed that this does not only go against the Mining Laws and the Constitution, but it has a tendency to scare away investors and give wrong signals about the country’s mining environment. He called on all operators to ensure the transfer of social and economic benefits to their host communities through Community Development Agreements (CDA) in line with the provisions of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007 and its pursuant regulations.
Earlier in his speech, the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, who was represented at the event by the Kaduna State Commissioner for Environment and Natural Resources, Amina Dyaris Sijuade said that the Council Meeting could not have been held at a more auspicious time in view of the enormous challenges facing the country in diversifying its economy.
The Governor expressed belief that sustainable mineral development is one of the keys for unlocking the enormous growth potentials of the Nigerian economy and advancing the country to the top 20 economies in the world in the next two decades. While implying that the Kaduna State Government has taken several measures to improve on its mining sector, he listed the measures to include: establishment of the Kaduna Mining Development Company Limited (KMDCL); commencement of the construction of a Mineral Buying and Processing Centre in Birnin Gwari which would be replicated in other senatorial zones as well as formalization of quarrying and other mining activities.
Nasir El-Rufai disclosed that Kaduna State is working towards harnessing its industrial minerals and Rare Earth Elements (REE) as potentials, just as the State Government is currently seeking ways to facilitate access to capital for expansion and development of the sector through Public Partnership Participation (PPP) arrangement.
He harped on the fact that monitoring, security and surveillance of mining / quarry sites is a critical component for ensuring that operators conduct their activities in line with the environmental considerations and the provisions of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2011 to say that this is believed to be the best way of curbing the activities of illegal miners.
In his goodwill message at the event, the first National President of the Miners Association of Nigeria, Safiadi Danladi while appreciating the efforts of the Government in turning around the mining sector appealed that the bottlenecks in accessing the grants set aside to support miners be removed.