Chineme Okafor in Abuja
Henceforth, the federal government will not issue out fresh permits to solid minerals mining firms in Nigeria to mine for more minerals if they do not have the consents of their host communities, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has disclosed.
Fayemi also stated that the government has reviewed the countryâ€™s Mining and Mineral Act of 2007, and fixed some of the loopholes that were identified in it such that it can now compete well with any mining laws in the world.
He explained in his opening remarks at the 2017 edition of the annual Sustainability in the Extractive Industries (SITEI) conference in Abuja thursday that the government was also making efforts to improve access to finance for indigenous mining firms in the country, adding that new partnerships in this regards have been created by his ministry.
According to him, in addition to the requirement of a community consent, mining firms would also submit to the ministry standard Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report before they could be considered for fresh mining permits.
â€œThe Nigerian Mining and Mineral Act, by and large is â€Ža good law. It is a 10-year-old law and we are reviewing it currently to identify gaps that we have received as feedbacks from players in the industry.
â€œAs it currently stands, it could compete with any other mining law, partly because, it has addressed some of the concerns in the past by ensuring that the host community has a critical role it would play in the mining sector,â€ said Fayemi.
He further explained: â€œYou cannot get a mining licence in Nigeria without getting the consent of the host community you are going to mine. The challenge is that this could be abused, especially if the mineral you have expressed interest in travelled across some inter-linking states, wherein you cannot discover who the real owners are. Land could be ancestral, or individually owned.â€
He however stated on this: â€œOne of the things we are currently looking at in the review we are currently taking place is to ensure that when you get a consent, as a mining investor, you donâ€™t have to worry about whom the land belong to, and you donâ€™t have to fight over the land. You cannot get a license without the Environmental Impact Assessment report.â€
Speaking on measures initiated by the government to upgrade the sector and create access to finance for local miners, Fayemi stated: â€œThe first discovery we made is that mining is a global business, and no one comes into mining, if you donâ€™t meet international standards. What does international standards mean, you must come into the mining with appropriate data of the nature of the mineral, the commercial viability in terms of quality and quantity.
â€œMining is more capital intensive, even more capital intensive than agriculture. This is one strategy the President used in diversifying the economy of our country. Mining desk is only in two banks in Nigeria – Stanbic IBTC, and the FCMB. The only financial institution getting involved in mining business is the DFIs (Development Financial Institutions). Such as the Bank of Industry (BoI) and the Nigeria Export Import Bank.
â€œYet, our single vision in Nigeria is to have mining desk across different banking hubs across the country. Banks are risk averse, and we are in recession. We have the duty as a government to de-risk the sector so that those in the banking would deem it attractive enough for would-be investors,â€ he said.
He also noted that because mining is a global endeavour, the government has initiated some working partnerships with some global institutions like the London Stock Exchange (LSE) to make Nigeriaâ€™s mining industry attractive to global investors.
Fayemi, stated that over 80 per cent of the bitumen used for road construction in Nigeria were imported, adding that such narrative would have to change with the revised mining Act.