Minister seeks increased funding for mining sector

Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc Olamilekan Adegbite (middle) and the Minister of State, Dr Uchechukwu Ogah (right), when the ministers appeared before the House Committees on Mines and Steel at the National Assembly, recently.

The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has appealed to the House of Representatives Committee on Mines and the House Committee on Steel to increase budgetary allocation to the sector, adding that more funds are needed to address challenges of the sector.

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc Olamilekan Adegbite who made the appeal when he appeared before the Committees alongside the Minister of State for Mines and Steel, Dr Uchechukwu Ogah said Nigeria has all it takes to be a global mining player, adding that the administration is actuating strategies that will fully unlock the potentials of the sector to become a major revenue earner for government.

He assured the lawmakers that the Federal Government will leave no stone unturned in its determination to place Nigeria in the rank of globally recognized mining nations, while unlocking the potential of the steel sector to industrialize the country, as well as unlock the economic prowess of the mining sector.

A statement from the Media Office of the ministry, signed by Idowu Jokpeyibo quoted the minister as saying that the agencies of the ministry are currently undergoing reforms in order to ensure optimal performance.

Adegbite said: “We began by identifying the potentials within the Ministry, some of the activities being carried out are to primarily assess the agencies and departments of the Ministry in order to know what they have and what needs to be put in place,” adding that the initiatives and efforts of past ministers paved way for development of the sector.

The minister further explained that the establishment of the Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office (MCO) and the Nigeria Geological Survey Agency (NGSA) are laudable, and have done much to develop the sector, adding that his administration has put in place strategies aimed at sustaining the legacies while opening up new frontiers of development for the mines and steel sector.

He said part of the mandate of the Ministry is to diversify the economy and to begin to tap into the rich mineral resources of Nigeria so as to create employment, wealth and lift Nigerians out of poverty.

He pointed out that the MCO and NGSA are being computerized in order to place their services at the finger-tips of global investors. He said the essence is to put the services online so that at the touch of a button, investors can access data and information on all minerals in the country from any part of the world. He promised that the activities of NGSA and MCO would soon be accessible online.

Responding to questions from the Members of the Committees on the policy direction regarding artisanal miners, Adegbite explained that 90% of mining activities in Nigeria is still at artisanal level, adding that small scale miners need to be put through important mining processes, a challenge he said is being addressed through the formalization of ASM miners in the country.

He said the ministry is currently adopting strategies to organize artisanal miners into cooperatives to enable them benefit from various support-programmes of government, especially the training of ASM operators on safer mining practices, as well as funding support aimed at optimizing the returns on their efforts.

The Minister added that the Federal Government has created a legitimate buying centre to enable miners sell at the prevalent market price in order to prevent exploitation of small scale miners.

The Chairman, House Committee on Mines, Michael Enyong acknowledged the desires of the two ministers to turn things around in the sector, and assured that the committee would align with their patriotic desires to ensure that the program and policies of government in the solid minerals sector is achieved.

The committee encouraged the ministry to intensify efforts to combat various challenges confronting the sector such as insecurity, reclamation of mine land and capacity building among others.

The Chairman, House Committee on Steel, Abdullahi Halims said the Committee would do all it should to ensure that the steel sector is revived saying, “We are aware that industrialization of Nigeria is solely dependent on the steel industry, we will support the ministry by way of legislation and active interaction to ensure that the steel industry which is restored.”

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