Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has said the large quantity of nickel – a silvery-white radiant metal discovered in Dangoma village, Kaduna State, was a potential game changer for Nigeriaâ€™s economy if properly managed.
Fayemi also stated that the federal government would support healthy mining of the nickel as well as other genuine investors in Nigeriaâ€™s solid minerals sector to actualise its economic diversification plan.
Speaking during his presentation at the Africa Down Under (ADU) Conference in Perth, Australia, Fayemi, said the Dangoma nickel deposit is reputed to be of high grade and a rare find, and that the government has secured the environment as a first major step to ensure it is mined responsibly.
According to a statement issued yesterday by his Senior Special Assistant on Communication, Mr. Yinka Oyebode, in Abuja, the minister whose presentation at the conference was titled: â€˜Mining for Shared Prosperity: Why Nigeria, Why Nowâ€™, said the government would support the nickel project and other investors to move Nigeria from a resource exploration territory to that of processing.
The minister, according to the statement, spoke to a gathering of African ministers of mines and minerals, policy makers, investors, operators and mining financiers at the conference where Nigeriaâ€™s nickel deposit was reportedly discussed at length.
He said as part of the governmentâ€™s plan for the nickel project and the solid minerals sector, it would not compromise its laws and regulations, but would urge investors to work with the state governments in their community relations engagement, in order to build harmonious working relationship with the host communities.
â€œYou need the cooperation of the host communities as well as the state governments. Even when our constitution allows the federal government to issue you licence, you need the understanding and cooperation of the state governments and the host communities whose environment you are going to work.
â€œThe host communities should have a stake in your investment. Once that is done, they would see themselves as part-owners and would ensure no one sabotages your efforts. This, we have learnt through experience,â€ said Fayemi.
He explained that the government was working with Comet Minerals Limited which discovered the nickel on different other aspects of the project, adding that, â€œthe nickel discovery could be a game changer if properly managed.â€
The minister also listed the governmentâ€™s incentives for investors in the sector to include tax holidays which he said was renewable, as well as duty waiver on imported mining equipment.
He, however said the government would insist on best practices with emphasis on enforcement of law and order.
Noting that Nigeriaâ€™s mining law remained one of the best in the world, Fayemi, however said enforcement of the laws had always been a challenge.
On governmentâ€™s effort at curtailing illegal mining, he stated that the formalisation of the informal miners remained one of governmentâ€™s approaches to solving the menace of illegal mining.
The statement also quoted professor of geology, Prof. Lousia Lawrence, to have stated that a lot of work had gone into authenticating Nigeriaâ€™s nickel deposit as being of high quality, and could be a game changer for Nigeria.