As the Nigerian minerals and mining sector keys into the diversification efforts of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, stakeholders have attributed the visible growing success of the sector to the present enabling environment being created by the present administration. Ruth Tene Natsa writes.

The managing director/CEO of Fujian Stones, Engr. Makoji Aduku, has attributed the success of the company to the enabling environment created by the ministry of mines and steel development for local investors and mining operators.

He also attributed the success to the sincerity of the Chinese partners who brought in state- of- the- art technology and machinery and a well-trained workforce which he said “could replace the expatriates in the near future.”

According to Aduku, the company was projecting a million square meters production mark in the nearest future, even as he solicited government’s patronage of their stones which he described as among the best in the world.

He added that the company was investing on its indigenous workforce to ensure knowledge transfer which would also aid the company’s  future expansion plans.

Aduku lauded the present Buy-Made-in-Nigeria campaign of the federal government, which he said the ministry of mines and steel development was championing.

He said the campaign has also helped to boost patronage of locally-produced dimension and industrial stones.

Earlier, the minister of mines and steel development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who led a delegation of the ministry’s staff in the company of the minister of State, Hon. Abubakar Bawa Bwari, said state governments may be required to authenticate mining consents issued to miners by host communities in order to sanitise the process and minimise the rancour that had followed its improper handling among communities across the country.

The ministers were on the second leg of a nation-wide tour of mining sites and communities. Recall that the previous week the ministers had completed the first leg of the tour which had seen them moving from Abuja to Kaduna, Lagos and Oguns States respectively.

Fayemi said, they “Were in Nasarawa to examine what is happening to active mines and the abandoned ones with a view to seeing what could be done to reactivate them and strengthen the bonds between miners and the host communities.”

Recall that they had paid a courtesy call on the executive governor of Nasarawa State, Governor Umaru Tanko Almakura, in Lafia on Monday.

Fayemi observed that as a naturally-endowed state, people were returning to even abandoned sites with tensions increasing between investors and host communities as a result of which he said the work that needed to be done required partnership with States where mining actually take place.

“We are very determined to enforce the provisions of the Mining and Minerals Act in support of host communities via the States,” he said.

He reiterated that era of producing and shipping out raw minerals from the country was over and urged miners to be ready to set up processing plants and machinery in the country in order to add value and create jobs.

Also reacting , the governor, Umaru Tanko Almakura, said that Nasarawa State was among three leading states in the vanguard of states that were key to President Mohammadu Buhari’s  diversification drive.

“Your visit has given us the impetus to reaffirm that Nasarawa State counts with every local government area having many minerals in them and over seventy different types present in the state as at the last count,” he said.

Almakura welcomed the idea of State certification of consent and promised that  his government would go to the drawing board and prepare for the time when the proper instruments for its actualisation were finalised.

He appealed to the federal government to carry Nasarawa State along where policy considerations on mineral resources were concerned and advised that dedicated outfits be provided for the protection of mines and their operators

The minister of State for mines and steel development, Abubakar Bawa Bwari, during a  tour of OFL Fujian Stones Marble and Dimension Stones factory in Mararaba, Nasarawa State said, “Serious local investors and producers of high quality marble and granite products and local contents would be supported by the federal government to scale up their production.

“Government was impressed not only by the high quality of the company’s products and its capacity to contribute to a significant reduction of the country’s importation of about four to five million square meters of granite products annually.”

He assured that any organisation that had demonstrated the kind of progress witnessed at the company would be encouraged through the facilities that would be available for sector players.

“We have been giving all our local investors moral support, we want to start giving them financial support, to enable them increase their capacity and productivity. This is a good example. We can attest to the significant progress this company has made since our first visit last year.

“Many of such serious investors would benefit from the intervention fund and the world bank loan, once they apply and meet all requirements. Through this we hope to bridge the importation gap and work towards self-sufficiency,” he said.

The minister also urged the company to ensure that Nigerian workers in the company were well trained and positioned to become experts in the field, thereby reducing overdependence on expatriates.

Similarly minister of mines and steel development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has called on miners and processors of baryte in the country to process their products to the required standard that would attract patronage from the oil and gas companies operating in the country.

He was speaking  at a meeting with mining stakeholders in Benue State, including members of the Association of Miners and Processors of Barite (AMAPOB), and Benue State Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (BECIMA) in Torkula Village, Guma local government area of Benue State.

The meeting was part of the highlights of the ministers’ tour of baryte mining sites and host communities in the state.

He told them to strive to separate the associated products through beneficiation in order to bring about maximum benefits and import substitution.

He added that with such results, it would be easier to meet the relevant arms of government to seek collaboration and secure needed infrastructure intervention such as access roads and rails for product evacuation.

The minister also urged oil and gas companies in the country to embrace the Made-in-Nigeria campaign of the present government by patronising baryte sourced from the country, which according to him was of high quality.

On relations with host communities, the minister said that when the communities are made to enjoy certain percentage of equity stake, they would defend their operations with full dedication and ensure a peaceful host community/industry relations.

One of the operators in the area, Mr Patrick Odiegwu, managing director, Polyguard Industries Nigeria Limited, said that given appropriate technological support, local demand for baryte could be easily met.

He lamented the infrastructural deficit and low patronage by most oil and gas companies in the country, adding that the quality of local baryte at 4.3specific gravity was remains the best in the world.

He wondered why many oil companies in the country continued to import baryte while the product abounds in the country.

Source: Leadership