Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
The federal government through the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the East China Metallurgical Institute of Geology and Exploration.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development Hon Abubakar Bawa Bwari, who signed on behalf of the government, said that the event underscores the importance that the ministry places on exploration.
According to him, â€œThere is no mining without exploration and getting the requisite data for our solid mineral sector will continue to be our priority. The agreement is the outcome of negotiations following my visit to the East China Institute during last yearâ€™s China Mining Conference in Tianjin where the institute impressed me with its technical expertise and experience in mining exploration.
Bwari stated that the, “MoU is an addition to the many MoUs the Ministry now have with countries like China, Morrocco and South Africa and I implore the East China Metallurgical Institute of Geology and Exploration to keep its part of the agreement and contribute positively to the exploration efforts in the mining sector as they have done in other countries.”
He observed that exploration/data gathering is one area in which we have a huge gap; it is an area Federal government intends to give its full attention.
â€œHowever, the cost of exploration is too prohibitive for government to do it alone and that is why we have been having discussions with other mining countries to assist Nigeria in the area of exploration,â€ he further explained.
Earlier in his address, the Director General of the Nigeria Geological Survey Agency (NGSA); Mr. Alex Ndubuisi Nwegbu, hinted that one of the agenda of the Federal Government is to diversify the economy and critical to the success of this diversification is the mining sector.
According to Nwegbu, the federal government has invested much on data generation. He adde: â€œWe have covered the country in terms of airborne geophysics, geological mapping, geochemical mapping and now, we are at the threshold of embarking on a very massive exploration programme, to explore for critical minerals important for diversification and economic growthâ€™.
“The generation of data is not the exclusive prerogative of government hence the reason for opening up the frontiers for others to participate in the effort.
“We are privileged to have the East China as one of those who are serious minded in terms of assisting Nigeria in generating this data to move the exploration forward and the interesting thing is that East china has the requisite capacity in terms of finance and expertise.â€
The head of delegation of the East China Metallurgical Institute of Geology and Exploration, Paul Ogbe Kaizer, added that the organisation has seen a new focus on diversifying Nigeriaâ€™s economy under the present government.
He stressed: â€œWe have seen such intensity to be able to achieve, and it is in line with this that we are here today to build up the data base for the critical minerals deposit in Nigeria, so that with this, we can attract investment in this sector.”