The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, has said that mining sector has a key role to play in the Nigeria economic recovery and growth if well harnessed.
Adegbite made the assertion at the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) June webinar in Lagos on Thursday.
He emphasised the importance of achieving the projected five per cent growth in the mining sector by 2025, saying it would lead to the nation’s economic growth and recovery through its diversification agenda.
Theme of the webinar was: “Mines and Steel Development Industry: Unlocking Nigeria’s Economic Potential.”
Adegbite, speaking as keynote speaker, said that the sector, as an employment Eldorado, offered huge revenue generation and robust economic potential.
According to him, the shortfall in revenue from effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought mining to the fore of diversification agenda for economic development.
He mentioned some of the initiatives designed to achieve the potential of the mining sector to include optimisation of mineral value chain, and domestic downstream policy.
This, Adegbite explained, would increase industrial activities and reduce the ongoing exportation of raw solid materials.
“Mining is an employment Eldorado and a clear way to achieve diversification, and industrialisation is through the development and mining of solid mineral resources.
“Mining is a very good source of addressing challenges facing the nation on foreign exchange, unemployment and revenue generation.
“The contribution of mining to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the economies of other countries such as South Africa, Australia, Ghana, among others, is quite remarkable.
“However, as at 2018, Nigeria’s contribution was at 0.5 per cent and by 2025, we are projecting a growth of five per cent to the GDP of the nation,” he said.
The minister stated that the nation had already identified over 44 different mineral types in over 500 locations across 36 states of which seven were strategic to unlocking the industrialisation potential of the nation needed for economic recovery.
He reiterated that the 2016 mining road map highlighted clear policy direction on how to develop the sector, saying this administration was committed to building upon the reforms of the road map.
The minister mentioned as some of the reform achievements to include completion of automation of the mining cadastral system essential at eliminating bureaucracy and enhancing transparency for investors.
“We are designing specific credit instruments to encourage investors in the sector.
“Also, there has been the establishment of a Geo-data centre for ease of access to information on minerals for use in academia,” he said.
Adegbite said that there would be incentives to encourage investors to support the sector.
He listed the incentives to include inclusive of customs and import duty waivers on equipment solely for mining purposes, tax holidays between the duration of three years to five years, free transferability of capital, and 100 per cent ownership.
On the security of mining, particularly small scale, the minister revealed that a mining police had been created to address the issues of theft and other security challenges which hitherto beguiled the sector.
“We have also been able to operationalise artisanal and small scale mining.
“Government is weaning off illegal miners off the backs of artisans by providing funds, equipment and credit facility,” he said.
Speaking on women inclusion in mining, Adegbite said that women were being supported with equipment and infrastructure for children to enhance their productivity.
The minister said that the pandemic, which had led to currency devaluation of some countries, had resulted in the dependence on gold as a safe haven.
He added that official licences buying centres had been created to buy gold from artisans.
“Also, two persons have been given licences to refine gold locally to be handed over to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and also export,” he said.
Giving an update on the state of the famous Ajaokuta Steel Mill, the minster disclosed that an upgrade on transportation systems and gas pipelines were ongoing.
“If not for COVID-19, technical audit is supposed to have started in February, but we are hopeful that once movement commences, work will begin in earnest to the next stage,” he said.