. . . as Miners Association tasks PMB on increased commitment to sector
As the emotion laden speech of the outgone Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Abubakar Bawa Bwari continues to resonate, stakeholders have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to put in place measures that will sustain the achievements of Dr. Kayode Fayemi and Abubakar Bawa Bwari leadership of the sector.
The National President of the Miners Association of Nigeria, Alh Kabiru Mohammed, in an exclusive interview with The TRUTH rated the performance of the Buhari administration in the mining sector, and commended Bawa Bwari while he called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sustain the commitment of government to the sector, saying that the sector has all it takes to diversify the economy.
“The efforts of the Federal Government is commendable, yet, we want President Muhammadu Buhari to increase his commitment to the development of the mining sector, and ensure sustainability of the achievements of the Bawa Bwari leadership of the sector which has just ended,” he said, adding that Bwari has been able to showcase the potentials of the sector to the global community.
Earlier, in his valedictory speech, the outgoing minister, Abubakar Bawa Bwari recalled the challenges inherited by the Buhari administration in the mining sector while also discussing modest achievements of the administration which began in November 2015.
“Some of the challenges we inherited include insufficient funding, weak institutional capacity of the supervising ministry, limited supporting infrastructure, limited cooperative federalism in sector governance and low productivity.
He said other inherited challenges include illegal mining activities, community challenges, protracted litigation on legacy assets, and weak ease of doing business.
Bwari explained that the administration was able to address the challenges, stating that the revenue generated from the mining sector and its contribution to national GDP has significantly increased. “The mining sector is beginning to play a viable role in jobs creation through sustainable mining practices,” he said.
Discussing how it achieved the set goal, he said: “Through a robust process of consultation with stakeholders, we were able to produce a Roadmap for the sector that was approved by the Federal Executive Council on August 31, 2016,” adding that the Roadmap provides strategic direction for addressing the challenges through initiatives that will last from 2015 – 2025.
He said in less than four years, government recorded some major achievements, including plugging revenue leakages, increasing sector funding, producing more accurate geoscience data through world class exploration projects, improving job opportunities in the sector while developing the downstream sector, and regulating the sector effectively to make sure standard practices are adhered to.
“In addressing the lack of geological data, we were able to pay off and collect the results of the aeromagnetic survey of the country done ten years earlier but not released due to non-payment.
“We also initiated a fifteen billion naira National Integrated Mining Exploration Project which has already discovered new findings,” adding that after the conclusion of the project, the areas of new anomalies will be sold to investors who will bring in foreign direct investment to increase the revenue coming into the economy.
“In the last few years, we have succeeded in attracting junior mining companies into the sector and they are doing quite well in increasing the investment portfolios of the country. Already, there are about fifty of these companies doing formal mining in various parts of the country.
“Some of these include the Australian company, Symbol Mining Limited which is currently exporting zinc from its open pit mine in Bauchi where the ore is confirmed to be twenty-two as compared to the global average of six percent.
Bwari who recalled that one of the legacy challenges that militated against the development of the sector was the lack of funds to embark on capital intensive mining, said the administration has been able to get Stanbic IBTC Bank to provide $600 million as funding for an integrated iron and steel plant being built in Kagarko, Kaduna State by African Natural Resources and Mines Limited. He said the project will have a capacity of 5.4 metric tonnes per annum and generate three thousand, five hundred direct jobs.
He further explained that in order to ensure backward integration and reduce the importation of mineral raw materials, the administration developed a roadmap for industrial minerals.
He expressed hope that “Nigeria will become self-sufficient in the production of construction materials and other industrial mineral raw materials such that the country will have comparative advantage as a result of its world class deposits.