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We’re committed to reviving Nigerian mining sector ─Minister

Raw Gold Stone

* As Adegbite woos UK investors

Isola Moses

Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite, Nigeria’s Honourable Minister for Mines and Steel Development, in regard to Federal Government’s commitment to diversifying the economy and providing jobs for the teeming youth, has restated the readiness of the government to resuscitate the mining sector.

Arc. Adegbite, who was the chief host at a conference in United Kingdom (UK) titled: “Nigeria Beyond Oil”, took the opportunity to showcase Nigeria’s mineral and mining potential and the incentives put in place to make the sector more attractive to investors, ThisDay reports.

The Minister said that Nigeria was being perceived as an oil country and should serve as a hub of investments.

Nonetheless, he noted that the country has been an unwilling victim of the ‘oil curse’ which he said created a huge gap in terms of solid mineral management over the years.

This has brought about Nigeria’s 30 years of stagnation in the mineral industry, he stated.

He said: “President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration met 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 percent in 1980 to the national GDP.”

In a statement by Mr. Edwin Okpara, the Ministry’s Director of Press, Adegbite stated that the present administration recognises mining as a strategic income stream in the face of dwindling oil revenue and look towards increasing its contribution to the national GDP by three percent by 2025.

While assuring participants in the conference that the Nigerian Government is determined to protect direct foreign investments (FDIs) as indicated in the Nigerian Mineral and Mining Act 2007, the Minister said: “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.”

He stressed 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.

He listed the achievements of his ministry to include the ongoing National Exploration Project (NIMEP), which was government’s rapid response to the dearth of investible geoscience data.

Another is the upgrading and automation of the Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office (MCO) for full online operations, which he said would reduce the processing of mining licences 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 South-West of Nigeria established a proven reserve of one million ounces (Oz) of gold on part of its tenements, is receiving the attention from international investors.

“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,” he disclosed.

Adegbite added this would include the provision and upgrading of railway network to link Abuja to the mineral centres and ports for easy evacuation of minerals resource and products.

He expressed the wiliness of the country to attract genuine investors to the Nigerian mining space and assured that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration would guarantee the safety of their investments.

Likewise, Samaila Zubairu, President and CEO, African Finance Corporation (AFC),  represented by Osam Iyahen, Director of Natural Resources, in his presentation titled, “Derisking African Mining Project,” said the mining sector could potentially be the key driver for industrialisation on the African continent.

It is recalled that Adegbite recently disclosed that the Federal Government has provided N2.5billion counterpart loan facility and lease-for-free mining equipment to support artisanal miners in the country.

The government is also working to ensure increased value addition in the nation’s mining sector through benefication of mining proceeds, he remarked.

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