In line with the commitment of the leadership of the Federal Government’s efforts to diversify the economy and provide jobs for the teeming youth, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc Olamilekan Adegbite highlighted reforms in the Mining Sector aimed at fast-tracking national growth.
The Minister, who was the Chief Host at the Conference in United Kingdom titled, “Nigeria Beyond Oil” seized the opportunity to showcase Nigeria’s Mineral and Mining potentials and the incentives put in place to make mining more attractive for investors.
Adegbite opined that Nigeria was being perceived as an oil country should serve as a hub of investments. He however noted that the country has been unwilling victims of the oil mineral curse which created a huge gap in the solid mineral management. This, according to him brought about Nigeria’s 30 years of stagnation in the mineral industry.
According to him, “President Muhammadu Buhari Administration met serious challenges in the mining sector occasioned by long neglect. It was apparent that we must re-enact the ‘Nigeria before oil’ policies, when the sector contributed as much as 5.6% in 1980 to the national GDP”.
The Minister said that the present Administration recognized mining as a strategic income stream in the face of dwindling oil revenue and look towards increasing its contribution to the national GDP by 3% in the year 2025.
He assured participants at the Conference that Nigerian Government is determined to protect direct foreign investments as indicated in the Nigerian Mineral and Mining Act 2007. His words, “Our focus is now on de-risking the sector, by the provision of more up-to-date and comprehensive data on mineral occurrences in Nigeria and enabling a more investor friendly environment through favorable incentives”.
Adegbite noted that the Ministry has achieved some milestones which he believed would prompt the participating countries as well as the larger Mining world to be part of the exploration and Mining revolution in Nigeria.
The Minister listed the achievements of the Ministry to include the on-going National Exploration Project (NIMEP), which is government’s rapid response to the dearth of investible geoscience data as well as the upgrading and automation of the Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office (MCO) for full online operations which he said would reduce the processing of mining licenses from 45 days to 15 days.
He said the outstanding gold discovery by Segilola Resources operating Limited/Thor Explorations Limited, whose exploration exercise in the Southwest of Nigeria established a proven reserve of one million ounces of gold on part of its tenements, is receiving the attention from international investors.
Adegbite noted that the Downstream Sector received much boost as the Ministry has issued two gold refinery licenses to Kian Smith Trading Ltd and Dukiya Gold Resources Limited while the lead and Zinc processing plants of Tongyi Allied Mines Ltd and Royal Salt Ltd have continued steady operations in Ebonyi state.
He further explained, “Our approach to the enactment of a ‘Nigeria Beyond Oil’ era is holistic, the integrated method involves the development of the necessary infrastructure to support the mines and mining communities. We are working assiduously to ensure the development of a Central Corridor around the steel development complex”. This, he said would include the provision and up-grading of railway network to link Abuja to the mineral centers and ports for easy evacuation of minerals resource and products.
The Minister expressed the wiliness of the country to attract genuine investors to the Nigerian mining space and assured thate President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration would guarantee the safety of their investments.
The President and CEO of African Finance Corporation (AFC), Samaila Zubairu who was represented by the Director Natural Resources, Osam Iyahen in his presentation titled,”Derisking African Mining Project” said the Mining Sector can potentially be the key driver for industrialization on the Continent.
Iyahen said de-risking the Projects require credibility with African governments, a broad geographic footprint across the Continent, funding and ability to attract significant capital projects. AFC, an African Owned & Funded Entity is financing the Thor Exploration’s Segilola Gold Project in Osun State.
In his Presentation, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Prof. Konyin Ajayi praised the strategies being put in place by the Ministry, saying it would enhance the development of the sector for the realization of economic diversification