Managing Director of Mshelia Gems and Jewelries Limited, Alh. Mshelia Aliyu, in this interview, says the President Mohammadu Buhari administration has all it takes to achieve the diversification goal through the mining sector. Excerpts:
Q: Sir, What kind of Minerals do you specialize in?
We specialize in several kinds of minerals, but of major interest to us are the precious and semi-precious stones such as diamond, sapphire, topaz, aquamarine, emerald and Amethyst
Q:As a miner, what is your position on the nature of mining in Nigeria? Is the environment friendly, and what is the level of Patronage?
Firstly, I must admit that Nigeria as a country is blessed with abundance of untapped mineral resources which can compete favorably in the global market.Thus, it has given the world a basis for investing in Nigeria which is a plus in terms of patronage. Notwithstanding the challenges as evident in other countries of the world that are into mining, doing business in Nigeria is highly rewarding.
Q: Talking about challenges, are there particular areas you find challenging about the business?
Well, I’ll say categorically that challenges are relative, what I see as a challenge to my business could be an opportunity for another, but I can affirm that the major challenge mining investors are facing is in the area of low project funding due to slow reform implementation by the government, low infrastructural development, insecurity, illegal mining and unregulated community interference with mining activities. But this point is mostly caused by misunderstanding between investors and host communities.
Q: What do you think government can do to actualize its diversification goal?
Diversification has always been the desire of Nigeria and several governments have presented their diversification plans but lack the will power to actualize them. Fortunately, the present administration has all it takes to actualize the diversification goal, with high optimism for the growth of the sector, better relationship with key players in the sector, high level of transparency and accountability and the desire to focus on reaching the real people in the mining sector.
Q: Who are the ‘real People’?
The real people are those miners who are duly registered by the mining Cadastre and those who are consistent in paying royalties, which is the basis for revenue generation. Not the backdoor politicians who are in the business of sabotaging the mining in Nigeria.
Q: At the just concluded Mining Week, one of the issues raised by small scale miners is the need for FG to grant amnesty to the miners to recover outstanding royalties from the Miners, what is your take on this?
In this case there is need for the government to apply what it deemed expedient for the benefit of all but I quite agree with the amnesty for the benefit of small scale miners because with this more miners will turn up their royalties. Basically, the amnesty will be more beneficial to government because it will give room for identification and registration of miners for proper planning.
Q: What amount of money is needed to start this type of your business?
I wouldn’t want to disclose a certain amount because the business has its own peculiarities. There are different minerals and each category has its minimum requirements. Often times people are skeptical in doing mining business because it is said to be capital intensive but the good news is that not all minerals are capital intensive, with less than Ten million Naira (#10,000,000) you can become a miner and with a Hundred and Fifty Million (#150,000,000) you can do mining business, like mine for instance, I operate both as a miner and a buying center.