By Michael Peter, The Sight News
Abuja; The Federal Government has expressed commitment to work with relevant stakeholders towards building a more viable solid mineral sector in Nigeria.
Speaking at the just concluded maiden edition of the National Council On Mining and Mineral Resources Development, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Kayode Fayemi noted that with the success of the Council meeting which comprised stakeholders in the industry, a major milestone has been covered in the implementation of the Solid Mineral Roadmap .
Fayemi promised that contributions and decisions from the council will be treated with utmost importance, stressing that “the aspiration is to build a world class minerals and mining ecosystem designed to serve a targeted domestic and export market for minerals and ores”
He said “our goal is to build a sector that is competitive and supportive of our overall job creation and wealth generation aspirations for Nigerians”.
He disclosed that a new partnership has been forged with the Ministry of Interior and the Nigeria Police to establish the Mining Police as provided by the law.
He affirmed a significant improvement in the Mining Cadaster Office’s issuance of Mineral titles, saying that the Cadaster Office has now met the target of consistently issuing licenses to applicants within 30-45 days as stipulated in Mining and Mineral Act.
The Minister also pointed out that with the ownership of the Ajaokuta Steel Company reverting to the Federal Government, a new investor with the financial and technical capacity to run the steel complex, will be engaged to run it.
He said “the operationalization of the Steel Company will provide the needed inputs to support the infrastructure requirements of the country, saving the nation about 3.3billion dollars annually spent on import of steel”.
He said “the Ministry is similarly working in concert with industry stakeholders to expand the domestic processing of our other ores, which will lead to the creation of jobs and reduce the pressure on our Naira”.
He further disclosed that the nation achieved a 300% increase in revenue between 2015 and 2016, disclosing that as at July of 2017, the sector had already surpassed the entire revenue of N2 Billion generated for the whole of 2016.
“Other achievements in the sector include the review of existing Mineral Royalties and Licensing Fees leading to increased revenue for the government”.
He also noted that the Ministry has registered over 30 Mineral Buying Centers, and enacted the Revenue and Reporting Compliance Agreement with the Nigeria Customs Service to stem the illegal trading of minerals.
Earlier the FCT Minister, Mohammed Bello warned that “no matter how much benefits comes out from mining, as long as we do that at the expense of the health of our people, and the degradation of their environment, all these fundamental benefits are of no use”.
He said “I personally believe that the right partnership between the federal government, the states, and the host communities, will make this a revolution that would be truly beneficial for all of us”.
He called on government to leverage on the experiences of other nations, to build a successful mineral sector.
On his part, the Executive Governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu called for more funding of the sector to maximise its economic potentials.
The Governor also said it was proper to draw out the regulatory and financing framework for the solid mineral sector as was done to assist in the development of crude oil.