LAGOS, Nigeria (AA) – Nigeria’s minister for solid minerals development late on Monday announced a roadmap to reposition the mining industry in the country.
Solid Minerals Minister Kayode Fayemi told a news briefing in Abuja that he hopes to ensure the mining sector “contributes double digit growth to the economy within a decade.”
He also said the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is determined to make the necessary investments to revive the long-abandoned Ajaokuta Steel complex in the north central Kogi State.
If properly structured, Fayemi said mining could generate at least a million “direct jobs” and rival the oil sector.
“The country’s solid minerals sector currently makes up about 0.34 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), which translates to about N400 billion ($2.01 billion) in value to the economy,” Fayemi said.
“While this is a significant amount, it is far less than the true potential of the sector. In fact, the sector has been operating sharply below capacity, with many mining operations manned by small scale artisanal miners as opposed to large scale players,” the minister said.
He said the ministry would conduct an external audit of revenue receipts in the solid minerals sector for the past years and establish the mining police for effective monitoring of mining activities, many of which he said go on unrecorded.
Fayemi said there would be an audit to the ministry of privatized assets based on the recent update by the country’s Bureau of Public Enterprises.
The mining sector is weighed down by a number of major challenges, Fayemi said: Limited infrastructure, insufficient geological data, limited cooperative federalism, low productivity, Illegal mining and community challenges, weak institutional capacity, insufficient funding as well as business climate and perception issues.
“For Nigeria, these issues will hold back market development, and must be resolved,” the minister added.
He said the ministry would focus on jobs creation, blocking all leakages to shore up its revenue generation, building an industry that would support the country’s industrialisation and building an industry that is sustainable, transparent and environmental friendly.
Fayemi added: “We also want to build an industry that integrates states communities and existing artisanal; miners, where possible, into mining ecosystem.
“If we deliver on this vision, then we can build a mining sector that Nigerians can be proud of 30 years or more from now. This sector should deliver double digit growth over the next decade with important direct and indirect economic impacts on households.
“To improve the likelihood of building such an outcome, the ministry also sought to extensively study the entire operations in the sector. Therefore, we continue to review lessons from some of the best mining industries to see what lessons we can draw from their experience, balancing some of the objectives outlined above.
Fayemi said the drive to boost mining would include entering into strategic partnership with the banks to develop interest in the sector and assist investors, and with the parliament for effective legislation, among other relevant agencies of government.
“We are building on a hard fought legacy, and it is important that we continue to refine that structure until it gives us the type of industry all Nigerians and our international investor friends will be proud of,” he added.
“We ask for your patience, but we also recognize our responsibility in boosting confidence. One thing we can guarantee is that this administration will make choices that will ensure that Nigeria and her partners, domestic and foreign, create a profitable, safe and sustainable solid minerals growth story. Hold us to account and challenge us,” the minister said.
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