Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
Indigenous operators in the Nigerian mining sector are not as successful as their foreign counterparts due to factors limiting their development and growth, a mining consultant, Adeyemo Titilope, has said.
Titilope, an engineer with an Abuja-based geophysical and geotechnical services firm, Geocardinal Engineering Services Limited, said most of the indigenous operators in the mining sector lacked the requisite technical capacity to excel.
Besides, he said the regulatory environment is so weak to ensure effective compliance with the existing laws guiding operators in the country’s mining industry.
Also, the conflict between the federal and state governments in the management of mineral resources in the country, he said, had resulted in double taxation, which is negatively impacting the growth of operators in the sector.
“Government has always said it wants to diversify the economy away from oil into the solid minerals and agricultural sectors,” he said.
“But, the diversification plan is felt only in the agriculture sector. Mining is not affected. The core professionals, with the right technical capacity, are not there.
“That is why the sector is not growing. That is why the indigenous operators are not succeeding. We need to enhance the capacity of indigenous operators for the sector to grow.
“If we really want to diversify the economy and reap any dividend of the investment, the sector must be driven by professionals, like what is happening in established mining destinations like Australia and South Africa,” he added.
Titilope, who also consults for some of the state governments on mining issues, said most operators in Nigeria lack the technical know-how to make the sector work.
In addition, he said some of the mining companies engage in activities that damage the environment. He wants government to ensure that those who have the capacity to mine are given the guidelines based on the established regulatory framework to obey environmental law or land reclamation law.
For the sector to grow, he said government needs to enhance the capacity of small-scale and artisanal miners as well as government agencies in charge of monitoring the mining industry, by training them on industry best practices.
He said the professional miners could be sent to understudy the operations in advanced mining economies like Australia, Canada and South Africa for them to learn how to deploy available resources into developing the sector.
Foreign companies, he said, were doing well mining in Nigeria, because they spent their resources to build their technical capacity and expertise.
“We need to build the indigenous capacity for mining for the industry to succeed in growing. The regulatory framework needs to be strengthened as in Canada, to ensure only qualified professionals are allowed into the mining business,” he said.
He said some foreign miners have left the country, because they were not able to cope with the pressures as a result of excessive tax demands from the state governments.
“The biggest challenge the mining industry is facing is that of a weak regulatory enforcement environment. These is one of the things that need to be strengthened.
“When the institution is strengthened, there will be a transfer of manpower efficiency and technical know-how on how to do mining efficiently,” he said.