By Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi has reiterated governmentâ€™s determination to turn around the mining sector by building a world class ecology of mineral and mining in the country.
Fayemi stated that the present administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari â€œis serious about taking mining out of the dungeon and listening to players and drivers of the industry and we are working with key enablers, particularly enabling ministries to ensure that this was doneâ€ he said.
The Minister in a statement by the Ministry in Abuja, made this known during the Sensitisation/Consultation with Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG)/Industry Stakeholders in the Mining Sector which took place at the Lagos Court of Arbitration International Centre. Lekki Lagos.
According to him, “The country is focusing more on rebuilding Nigeria mining and mineral sector, which has been comatose for quite a long time. To ensure that this is done, he said the Ministry has come up with a Roadmap and constituted a committee called Mining Implementation Strategy Team (MIST).
MIST, he noted, “is not a government body but a body independent of the Ministry but supported by the various pillars of the Ministry with the sole objective of monitoring and ensuring the implementation of the ministryâ€™s Roadmap.
Addressing the issue of continuity of policies in the sector, he stated that, â€œcontinuity is important to us, the mining law that we are operating now is 2007 law and we are still working with because the sector needs predictability, it needs certainty so we are not changing law but enforcing the law.”
Fayemi explained that it would no longer be business as usual for those who obtain mining licenses without operations as those who do not use their licenses would lose them to those who are serious and ready to do the mining business
The minister stressed the need to improve the partnership among the federal government, state and the host communities. Adding that, efforts are already being made to ensure that the States get their own dues on whatever is derived from the mining sector and that the government is also working on the most effective way to ensure that those in the industry derive maximum benefits and government does not loose revenue as well.
He however appealed to Nigerians to be patient with government as â€˜mining calendarâ€™ do not align with the â€˜electoral calendarâ€™ as mining is not a 4year agenda, as exploration might sometime last for 10 years in some cases before getting solid result that could go into production.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Chairman of Mining Implementation Strategy Team (MIST), Prof Gbenga Okunlola said the meeting was part of the continuous consultation the ministry is doing to evolve new strategies for the implementation of the Roadmap. This, he believed would among other things integrate the ministry with the manufacturer, the off-takers and the processors.
Okunlola stressed the importance of value addition and utilisation, he said what the country intend to achieve is with the Roadmap is wealth creation and employment generation. â€œThe need to have many more people not only doing the mining but also having more industries using the mining products that are available locally which enables the country to generate wealth and provide employmentâ€ He explained.
In his paper titled, â€˜An overview of the Roadmap and Industrialisation Prospectsâ€™, the Director Planning Research and Statistics(PRS), Mr. Olabode Davies believed that Nigeriaâ€™s large deposits of mineral resources could be the driver for a diversified economy and that right policies and industrial strategy could be a catalyst for a commodity based industrilasation.
He mentioned the development of strategies to utilise domestic supply of minerals in the local economy, as one of the core ideals of the Roadmap for development and growth of the mining industry.
Davies said the ministry has been able to identify and promote development of minerals to enhance economic linkages as it has identified Gold, Bitumen, Limestone, Coal, Barite, Lead and Zinc as key minerals to the industrialisation process.