Stakeholders in the mining sector at the end of their three-day Council meeting in Kaduna, North Central, developed new strategies that would successfully transform the sector and help realise Nigeria’s ambition in driving domestic industrialization.
This was one of the take-aways at the end of the 3 days meeting of the National Council on Mining and Mineral Resources Development, held in Kaduna, the State capital. The meeting themed 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, Mines and Steel Development, Hon. Abubakar Bawa Bwari said the event signals another milestone in the government 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 mandate of economic diversification, job creation as well as increasing its revenue base” he added. He 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.
Bwari said most of the decisions agreed on at the last Council Meeting have been implemented and that inputs from the Council along with the sector’s Roadmap, has succeeded in mobilising critical stakeholders to work in synergy with Government at all levels for the growth of the sector.
He said the current administration has been able to turn things around for the sector adding 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 provides single digit interest loans to Artisanal, Small and Medium Scale Miners.
In respect of the perennial problem of lack of geosciences data necessary to attract investment into the sector, the Minster said 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 our National Minerals Database; review of the explosives act and checked cases of explosives’ proliferation, pilfering and diversion, in partnership with the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) and the automation and upgrade of the Mining Cadastre System project at 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. “This and other collaborations are intended to leverage on the expertise and state-of-the-art technologies of these organisations in assisting Nigeria generate investor friendly geoscience data”, he added.
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 made known 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. “This does not only go against the mining laws and the Constitution, it also has a tendency to scare away investors and give wrong signals about our country’s mining environment” he emphasised.
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, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, who was represented at the event by the Hon. Commissioner for Environment and Natural Resources, Kaduna State, Mrs Amina Dyaris Sijuade, said 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 believed 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.
He said Kaduna State Government has taken several measures to improve the 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 he said, would be replicated in other senatorial zones as well as formalization of Quarrying and other Mining Activities.
Malam El-Rufai disclosed that Kaduna state is working towards harnessing its Industrial Minerals and Rare Earth Elements (REE) potentials as his government is currently seeking ways to facilitate access to capital for expansion and development of the sector through Public Partnership Participation (PPP) arrangement.
He noted that monitoring, security and surveillance of mining/quarry sites is a critical component towards ensuring that operators conduct their activities in line with the environmental considerations and the provisions of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2011. This, he believed is the best way to curb the activities of illegal miners.
In his goodwill message, the first National President, Miners Association of Nigeria, Chief 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.