By Francis Kadiri, Abuja.
The African Industries Group (AIG) on Wednesday, said its subsidiary, the African Natural Resources and Mines Limited (ANRML) has set up a fully integrated iron ore mining and steel processing plant that will make ‘significant contribution’ to the realization of the economic diversification goal of the Federal Government of Nigeria, adding that the economic activities of ANRML, which include exploration, mining, beneficiation and mineral trade, will further boost the contribution of the mining sector to the country’s GDP.
Group Managing Director of the organization, Mr. Alok Gupta who spoke through his representative, Mr Partha Ghosh, gave the assurance in Abuja, at the ongoing Nigeria-Africa Natural Resources and Energy Investment Summit.
He expressed optimism that in the next five years, the Nigeria mining sector will boost its current contribution to GDP from 0.33% to 3%, stating that the ANRML mining and processing plant, which is situate at Kagarko LGA of Kaduna State, will create direct and indirect employment of up to 4000 Nigerians.
The ANRML project is one of Nigeria’s largest non-oil FDI investment gulping over 600 million US Dollars, with mining capacity of over five million tonnes per annum.
Gupta who disclosed that the ANRML project has acquired Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) certifications as per National and International standards in line with guidelines of both World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC), said the iron ore resources are certified as per NI43 101 international standards.
While he explained that ‘the project will contribute manifolds towards the local community development,’ Gupta commended the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Government of Kaduna State for ‘the continuous support, cooperation and assistance’ they accorded the project.
He said: ‘I am confident that Nigeria’s solid minerals and mining sector has great potential to transform the nation’s economy to greater extent. The sector can contribute optimally to the country’s GDP from 0.33% currently to 3% in the next five years.
‘ANRML will be a significant contributor to this growth and will continue to offer social and economic benefits to all stakeholders in the Mining Value Chain (MVC) from Exploration, Mining, Beneficiation to Trade,’ he said.
He explained that the project will serve as source of significant savings in foreign exchange by import substitution and will add to foreign exchange reserves.
‘When our mining project starts to export DRI to other West African countries, it will make Nigeria as one of the prominent Crude Steel producers in the world,’ he said.
The Group Managing Director congratulated the Federal Government of Nigeria and CORE International Mining and Marketing Company for successfully organizing the investment summit. He expressed confidence that the summit will chart a way forward for the development of natural resource and energy projects within Nigeria and across Africa in a sustainable and climate friendly manner.
According to him, ‘Nigeria is a country blessed with abundant natural resources. I would like to share some interesting data to highlight this fact: There are about 44 different kinds of solid minerals and precious metals found in commercial quantities in more than 500 locations in Nigeria.’
He said the 36 states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory have more than one mineral type, saying that it is a rare occurrence.
‘It is noteworthy to mention that the government is keen to diversify the economy and reduce the dependency on oil for GDP contribution.
‘One of the core pillars of His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari’s economic policy has been the repositioning of two major sectors – Mining and Agriculture – with a view to maximally explore their potentials to create wealth, contribute to GDP, create jobs, and expand economic opportunities available to Nigerians.’
Gupta described the mining sector as a ‘critical backbone of the industrialised value chain,’ stating that a number of reforms and regulations have been initiated for its sustainable Growth and Development. He noted that amendments have been proposed to the Nigeria Minerals and Mining Act (NMMA) to attract investments, generate revenues and crack down on illegal mining.
Gupta commended the government for creating investment-friendly climate that encourages foreign investment, and for giving incentives to mining companies such a three-year tax holiday extendable for two more years and exemption of customs and import duties on imported mining equipment.
He also commended government’s recent approval of six billion Naira under the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), to develop Mineral Processing Clusters across six geo-political zones. ‘The Government,’ he said, ‘has been successful in getting broad based buy-in and support from critical stakeholders, like local governments and local communities.’
Discussing the Mining Implementation and Strategy Team (MIST) of the federal government, Gupta said: ‘MIST is strategically focusing on Steel,’ adding that Nigeria has the 12th largest iron ore deposit in the world, with more than 3 billion tonnes in Kogi, Enugu, Niger, Zamfara, and Kaduna States.
Gupta expressed concern that ‘every year, around $3.3 billion is spent on steel imports,’ which he said impacts the foreign reserves and the economy. He explained that with the focus on steel, Nigeria can reduce dependency on imports, boost economy and also become a major player in regional and global markets.
Alok Gupta thanked the organisers of the Investment Summit and the Government of Nigeria for this opportunity, and wished participants very interactive and fruitful three-day summit.