The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite has assured that the ministry will work with relevant stakeholders to ensure that the fourth Nigeria Mining Week, scheduled for October 14 to 16 in Abuja, will strengthen the country’s presence in the global mining space.
He said the ministry will take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the sector to diversify the economy.
“If we get the work right, we will surpass the earnings from oil and gas,” he said.
The Minister, who gave the assurance during a press conference held at the Ministry’s headquarters in Abuja, noted that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari will put in place strategies to ensure that the Nigeria Mining Week plays a more crucial role in the realisation of the economic diversification agenda of government.
While he recalled that “in the 60s, mining was the mainstay of the Nigerian economy,” he noted that at the time, Nigeria was well known and highly regarded for coal production and tin mining, adding that the country earned recognition for for solid mineral commodities.
The minister expressed concern that the advent of oil and gas led to the decline of mining operation as evidenced by several abandoned mine sites in the country. He however assured that the administration is committed to working with relevant stakeholders to restore lost glory of the sector, stating that reclamation of abandoned mine sites has become an integral part of the administration’s policy.
Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah expressed confidence in the Conference Organizing Committee and its partners to generate ideas that will make the fourth Mining Conference a lot better than previous models.
He said considering the commitment of the Buhari administration to economic diversification, the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development will take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the conference to attract foreign investments to the sector.
Dr Ogah said: “I am convinced that at the end of the 4th Nigeria Mining Week, we would have made concrete resolutions that will lead to a greater mining sector in Nigeria.”
Chairman, Organising Committee of the 4th Mining Week, Sani Shehu said the mining week consists of series of activities. He said the Miners Association of Nigeria is committed to developing the “Nigeria Mining Week such that it will be at par with global mining conferences like the Mining Indaba in South Africa, Mines and Money in London, Australian Africa Down Under and PIDAC of Canada,” stating that as stakeholders, the association is committed to making effective efforts that will lead to the realization of set goals.
Sani said: “We want Nigeria Mining Week to be included in the International Calendar of global mining events,” adding that in Canada, Australia and South Africa, the organised private sector plays crucial roles in mining conferences and development of the mining industry.
Sani, who is the immediate past president of the Miners Association of Nigeria however lamented that “in Nigeria, the peculiar nature of the sector and challenges encountered by operators has made it difficult for the industry to achieve the industry goals being scored by governments in other climes.”
He however commended the commitment of the Arc Adegbite-led management of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development to making a difference by collaborating with relevant stakeholders to achieve set goals. He said: “The Organising Committee of the Nigeria Mining Week hereby commends the leadership of the Ministry – the two ministers, the Permanent Secretary and the entire management team for giving us the support we need to to succeed.” Sani explained that if the support is sustained, the Nigeria Mining Week will get the global endorsement needed to place it on equal footing with world class mining conferences like the Indaba and Africa Down Under among others.
President, Miners Association of Nigeria, Alh Mohammed Kabiru Kankara said the deliverables of the Mining Week are in tandem with the economic diversification agenda of the Federal Government, adding that the mining sector is capable of earning greater revenue to government.
He said the forthcoming mining week is specifically designed to be a critique of the factors militating against the development of the mining sector and products along the mineral sector value chain.
Habeeb Jaiyeola, Director, Head Mining Industry Business Development, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Nigeria, said the conference aims to stimulate robust conversation between government and the private sector, stating that the interaction will lead to solution that will address various challenges of the sector. He said it is commendable that Nigeria seeks an alternative revenue source, adding that the mining sector can become another revenue spinner for the country while creating huge job opportunities.
The 4th Nigerian Mining Week is expected to attract over 1, 200 mining experts, 180 mines and exploration companies, 40 sponsors with over 24 countries to be represented.