Sequel to the current administration’s diversification drive to advance the development and use of different mineral commodities, the Federal Government has flagged off the first integrated exploration project under the Natural Resources Fund as an enabler of the programme. 

Speaking during the flag-off ceremony, yesterday, in Abuja, Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Abubakar Bwari, said the project had been long overdue and noted that its success would be critical in determining how far government can go in its efforts to reposition the sector.

Bwari said his ministry intends to contribute to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by industrialising minerals for local consumption and import substitution, using metallic minerals for generating foreign exchange and energy minerals for power generation. 

He said: “The inadequate geoscience data has contributed immensely to the decline in the mining sector’s contribution to the nation’s GDP to a paltry 0.35 percent, as compared to oil which contributes about 10 percent and 85 percent of foreign exchange earnings. This is an unhealthy situation that makes our country’s economy particularly vulnerable.

“We realised that the diverse mineral commodities Nigeria is blessed with can only serve their purposes if they are properly and comprehensively characterised to enable stakeholders make investment decisions.

The minister urged the National Geological Survey Agency (NGSA), which will be supervising the project, on behalf of the ministry, to strictly adhere to the job specifications and contractual agreements on a duration of 12 months and, also, ensure adequate employment of local expertise.