……as ministry commissions 38 surveillance vehicles for Mines Officers

The Federal Government, through the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development,  has secured $150million (N45.7 billion) support from the World Bank for the Mineral Sector Support for Economic Diversification (MSSED or MinDiver) programme.

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, who disclosed this in Abuja on Monday, said the Ministry is working with the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, the Nigerian Stock Exchange and other institutions to assemble  a $600million investment fund for the sector, by first quarter of 2017.

The Minister stated this in his 2016 End of year Ministerial Briefing and Projections for Year 2017, at the conference room of the Ministry. The event was attended by the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Hon Abubakar Bawa Bwari and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mohammed Abbas.

Dr Fayemi said: “We have secured support from the World Bank for the funding of $150mn  Mineral Sector Support for Economic Diversification ((Economic Diversification MSSED or MinDiver) program, adding that “a critical component of the support is to provide technical assistance for the restructuring and operationalisation of the Solid Minerals Development Mining Investment Fund, which would make finance available to ASM operators through development finance, micro-finance and leasing institutions.

The Minister spoke of plans for the mining sector new year, at the event which also featured the commissioning of 38 surveillance vehicles bought for mines officers, valued at about N322 million.

He said “The fund will also help to bring back on stream previously abandoned proven mining projects like tin ore, iron ore, coal, gold and lead-zinc among others.”

Dr Fayemi said the sector has witnessed some positive developments and productivity  in the last one year, including a major improvement in the ministry’s contribution to the Federation Account to about N2 billion n in 2016, up from N700M in 2015.

He added that  increased productivity in the  mining space had also led to significant discovery of mineral deposits, notably the large find of high-grade nickel a few months ago in Dangoma, Kaduna State by an Australian mining company operating in Nigeria.

Fayemi, further revealed that government had constructed 10 Prototype Mineral Buying Centres across the country for specific strategic industrial minerals.

“The centres are to serve as standardisation centres to enable ASM Cooperatives and operators receive fair premium for their labour. With renewed determination to strengthen collaborative efforts with State governments in natural resource governance, the PMBCs are being ceded to state governments” he said

Dr Fayemi recalled that he had identified some challenges , including lack of geological data, weak institutional capacity and limited supporting infrastructure during his inaugural ministerial briefing on December 21, 2015, said he the ministry has recorded some remarkable achievements in tackling those challenges.

The Minister also inaugurated the Mining Implementation Strategy Team(MIST). Composition to be chaired by the Chairman, Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society, Prof. Olugbenga Okunlola and Coordinated by the Special Adviser to the Minister on Policy and Strategy Prof. Okey Onyejekwe

Presenting their Terms of Reference (TOR) the Minister said “these includes developing a logical framework matrix that spells out priorities,key performance indicators (KPIs),targets/benchmarks,time lines and result based action plans.

Others include developing a framework for monitoring and evaluating the implementation process and progress, developing resource base mobilisation, developing accountability framework and communication strategy for communicating the implementation process and progress.

While commissioning the surveillance vehicles, the Minister who remarked that that was the first time the ministry would procure such a large fleet of surveillance vehicles, urged the Mines Officers to use the vehicles and other surveillance gadgets to ensure effective inspection of mines activities.

The commissioning was witnessed by  the Minister of State, Hon. Abubakar Bawa Bwari, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr. Mohammed Abbas; the Wife of Kebbi State Governor, Hajia Zainab Atiku Bagudu; and Commissioner for Commerce, Zamfara State, Hajia Fatima Umaru Shinkafi.

The Minister said: “The execution of this vehicle procurement project is therefore a clear demonstration of the commitment of this administration to our strategic goal of repositioning the Mining sector for greater productivity. One of our objectives is to strengthen our ministry with the requisite capacity and capabilities to deliver on our mandate to effectively regulate the sector”, he added.

Fayemi stated that the fleet of vehicles cost Government about N322 Million, which is no small expenditure in view of competing priorities.

He said the purchase of the vehicles has successfully addressed the challenge of the absence of logistical support for field operations of the technical departments of the Ministry. The progress will result in scaling up the capacity of the departments for effective discharge of their statutory duties and functions.

The Minister said beginning from January 2017, he expects to start seeing the positive impact of the investment in terms of increased revenue generation, reduction in number of illegal mining incidences, fewer cases of conflicts arising from mining activities, and timely rendering of periodic reports of mining activities from respective field stations.

He warned officers to use the vehicles strictly for the official duties they are meant for and on no reason should the vehicles be used for unofficial purposes except with express approval. He said to discourage arbitrary use of the vehicles other than the discharge of official duties, the vehicles have been installed with tracking devices that will enable the Ministry monitor their movements centrally from Abuja. That any officer that runs afoul  of the ethical use of the vehicles shall be dealt with in accordance with relevant Civil Service Rules.

The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development Hon. Abubakar Bawa Bwari in a vote of thanks commended the Dr. Fayemi for the passion shown for the mining industry, the National Assembly for their understanding and cooperation for the industry, the Security Agencies for their cooperation and all stakeholders especially the International partners and Agencies and the Media for their support.