FG, States, operators brainstorm on development partnership as Nat’l Council on Mining kicks off

. . . FG will adopt broad based consultations in policy making – Perm Sec

. . . As Vice Chancellor calls for resolution of conflict of interest between states, FG

The maiden edition of the National Council on Mining and Mineral Resources (NCMMR) has kicked off with participation of stakeholders at all levels including the organised private sector.

Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Mohammed Abbas who welcomed participants to the ‘very important maiden edition of the National Council on Mining and Mineral Resources Development’ said at the inception of the Buhari administrational in 2016, government realised that the sector’s enormous challenges need to be sustainably addressed.

Among concerns which the council shall strive to proffer solutions to are challenges of mineral sector governance at Federal and State government levels, illegal mining and export challenges, mines field insecurity, need for effective regulation and legal framework for the minerals and metal sector as well as strategies for implementation of the roadmap for National Development.

The Permanent Secretary said the council will review the activities that occurred previously in the sector, look at achievements and review the strategies which implementation led to the achievements, review failures and take stock of the issues responsible for the failures, and then decide the way forward for the growth and development of the sector within a one year period.

According to him, the challenges include insufficient funding, lack of geological data needed by prospective investors to make investment decisions, weak institutional capacity of the supervising ministry, limited supporting infrastructure, limited cooperative federalism, low productivity, illegal mining and community challenges, weak ease of doing business and protracted litigation on legacy assets.

He said one of the first critical ways of addressing the problems is to put the mining governance right through its entire value chain of exploration, mining, beneficiation and trade.

The permanent secretary explained that ‘in spite of the challenges, government is able to shift from old methods to new ones as a result of which revenue from the sector has increased tremendously,’ stating that a cardinal philosophy that has guided government’s intervention in the mining sector is broad based consultation, and inclusion of stakeholders in the design and implementation of reforms.

According to Abbas, partnership approach is what informed the development of the country’s “Roadmap for Growth and Development of the Mining Sector which was approved by the Federal Executive Council in August 2016.”

He said state nearly all governments actively participated in the process as some states brought forward their suggestions for inclusion in the final document.

He said it is in order to build on the successes of FG’s development collaboration with states and industry operators that the ministry sought and obtained the approval of the FEC to establish the National Council on Mining and Mineral Resources, adding that it has the Council is to meet periodically to brainstorm and provide inputs into governance of the mining sector.

Membership of the council is drawn from the Federal and State houses of assembly, commissioners and Permanent Secretaries in charge of relevant federal and state ministries, agencies and parastatals, the organised privates sector, security agencies, tertiary institutions, industry players, labour unions and professional associations.

He said the conclusion and recommendations of councils of this nature are usually advisory to the ministry and to those responsible for governance of the sector, adding that it goes a long way to determine the policy decisions and implementation.

Vice Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Prof Ibrahim Garba identified the “ownership and governance of the sector” as an issue that has become a tussle between federal and state governments, stating that it is a major problem bedeviling the development of the country’s mining sector. He called on participants to deliberate and proffer solution to the challenge.

State governments believe that they should control mining related activities in their states, but the federal government argues that extant laws of the land have placed minerals in the states under the control of the federal government.

Garba advised state governments to exercise patience till the sector become more productive before agitating for control, adding that petroleum and solid minerals are by law, administered by the federal government.

If FG decides to give up control of solid minerals and leave it for the states to control, that means it will also have to give up control of oil,” he added.

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