The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc Olamilekan Adegbite has advanced reasons why the Nigerian mining sector should be the first point of call to investors at home and abroad, stating that the administration has put in place all that should be done to ensure best returns on mining investment.
Agegbite, who discussed various compelling reasons to invest in the Nigerian mining sector while delivering his Keynote Address during the virtual opening ceremony of the fifth edition of the Nigeria Mining Week, on Tuesday, said the country is endowed with over 44 different mineral types occurring in commercial quantities in over 500 locations across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, adding that the mineral endowments broadly cut across the various mineral spectrums.
While saying that Nigeria has industrial minerals such as barite, kaolin, gypsum, feldspar, and limestone, he added that the country is also endowed with energy minerals such as bitumen, lignite, and uranium.
“We also have metallic ore minerals such as gold, cassiterite, columbite, iron ore, lead-zinc, and copper.
“There are construction mineral types such as granite, gravel, laterite, and sand. We also have the precious stone variety such as sapphire, tourmaline, emerald, topaz, amethyst, and garnet, just to mention a few.
While saying that the endowments demonstrate the wide mineral spectrum with which Nigeria is endowed with, he said it offers limitless opportunities for exploitation, job creation, revenue growth, and economic development.
Discussing another strategic mineral development policy of the administration, the minister explained that “out of the 44-mineral endowment, seven were selected for immediate development,” saying that they include coal, iron ore, bitumen, gold, limestone, lead-zinc, and barite.
He said the government adopted a forward-thinking approach by developing the strategic minerals of the future which he said include minor metals such as titanium and cobalt, which are vital to futuristic industries such as telecoms and electric vehicle manufacturing.
According to the minister, government has created “a very business-friendly environment in the mining sector through reforms that grew out of the roadmap for the growth and development of the Nigerian mining industry,” stating that the roadmap, which was formulated in 2016, gave a clear policy direction on how to orderly develop the sector.
While saying that the policy efforts are in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s determined resolve to diversify the economy, he explained that the ministry has continued to work hard to increase the revenue generated from the sector and its contribution to the national GDP.
The sector is also being primed to be a huge job creator, broadening the spectrum of economic opportunities available to Nigerians through the pursuit of strategic policies. It may please you to know that every policy initiated by us has been steeped in global best practices.
The minister said: “Transparency has been our watch word and cornerstone upon which the mining industry has been administered, as we continue to foster a culture of openness which will, in turn, engender trust between all stakeholders in the industry.
“Carrying out this mandate through our various reforms is a drive towards creating value in the mining sector that would ultimately benefit the citizens.
“The Ministry has been scaling up the capacity of the sector, transforming it into a strategic catalyst for domestic growth while also achieving a high level of global relevance.
While he recalled that in July 2021, the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development successfully hosted a virtual meeting with the 774 local government chairmen, chaired by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, he explained that the event was part of the mandate of the ministry to develop the sector, create opportunities for both local and foreign investors to exploit the various minerals occurring in each local government area to create jobs and empower members of the local host mining communities.
He said the ministry recently launched the Made-in-Nigeria Barite in Port Harcourt, as part of efforts to develop industrial minerals, adding that the initiative is expected to spur the promotion and growth of local content, boost the economy with a corresponding increase in revenue.
“The initiative would not only put Nigeria on the radar of the global mining communities, but would also save the country about $300 million in annual importation costs, thereby creating employment opportunities for the teeming population.
“The Ministry will also commission an open marketplace portal that will connect all stakeholders along the barite value chain to a hub that allows for easy coordination, stocking, effective costing, and seamless sale of barite, as we adhere to the ease of doing business initiative.
Discussing other strategies put in place to make the sector an investment-friendly environment, the minister said the ministry has commenced one pilot project per geopolitical zone in order to enhance local content along the mineral value chain, adding that each cluster will be equipped with modern equipment and technologies to support a network of miners, processors, skills development providers, logistics providers.
He said through the Nigeria Integrated Exploration Programme (NIMEP), the government is building a strong geoscience base to enhance the sector’s competitiveness as a world-class mineral exploration destination that foreign investors would find attractive.
“This geoscience information will help to de-risk the sector,” he said, noting that target minerals under the first phase include gold, lead, zinc, iron ore, and rare metals, among others.
He said the federal government has also commenced the process of retrieving Nigeria’s colonial geological data from the United Kingdom by engaging the British Geological Survey (BGS) to build a national electronic geo-data archiving management system to be called the Nigerian Geo-data Center at the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA). This, he said, would provide easy access to geo-science data for prospective investors on potential areas to target for exploration and mining within and outside Nigeria.
According to him, “the BGS will also integrate historical geo-data of Nigeria into NGSA and the National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency (NSRMEA) into the system.”