President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has reiterated his administration’s resolve to revive the mining sector by providing a good business climate for investors in the sector.
The president, who was represented by the secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Senator George Akume, made this comment at the ongoing 8th edition of Nigerian Mining Week event holding at the International Conference Centre in Abuja, Nigeria, under the theme “Capitalising on Nigeria’s Critical Mineral Resources For Economic Growth.’
He described the three-day Mining Week as not just another talk shop and exhibition, but a networking platform for the stakeholders in the Mining industry to showcase the huge potential in the Nigeria mining industry.
Tinubu said: “This year’s theme underscores the federal government’s commitment to sustainable development, and collaboration within the mining industry, with a special focus on maximizing Nigeria’s mining potential.
“Government shall continue to ensure a good business environment for investors to invest in the sector by ensuring policy consistency, and adequate security.
“Nigeria is known for its oil and gas, which is a fraction of the natural resources it is blessed with and there is a need for Nigeria and Africa at large to diversify and develop other sectors to harness their potential”, he said.
He, however, said the federal government has a policy of value addition in order to maximise earnings from mineral wealth, adding that the government will take advantage of every resource within the country to catalyse its industrial development.
Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dele Alake, who gave the keynote address, said his ministry was committed to demonstrating the president’s commitment to the development of the Nigerian mining sector as a significant source of economic diversification of the country’s monolithic revenue base.
He said: “We charted a new direction with the articulation of the seven-point Transformation Agenda, which focuses on the establishment of the national mining company; development of big, standardized and internationally certified data; formalization of artisanal mining through co-operatives; security of mines in collaboration with the security agencies; conscientisation of mining communities to ensure their lawful rights and commit licenses to community empowerment and the strategic promotions of our country’s vast mineral deposits for indigenous and international investments.”
He noted the positive acceptance of the ideas in the agenda by the critical stakeholders of the solid minerals sector and proposing many pathways to achieve its goals, adding that the president had shown visionary leadership and dedication to diversifying Nigeria’s economy through mining.
Speaking on the theme of the programme, he said it resonates deeply with Nigeria’s aspirations for transforming its economy through the optimum maximisation of its abundant mineral resources.
“If we manage these resources judiciously and responsibly, they can serve as the engine of our economic growth, offering employment opportunities and enhancing the well-being of our citizens.
“Nigeria is endowed with valuable solid minerals like Limestone, Gold, Baryte, Bitumen, lead zinc, Coal, and Iron Ore, to mention a few. This natural wealth indicates a significant reservoir poised for exploration and development. These resources can potentially reduce our dependence on oil revenues, diversify our economic base, serve as the bedrock of sustainable development across various sectors, and provide significant job creation opportunities,’ Alake said.
“Recent years have witnessed commendable efforts to revitalise the Mining Sector. We have worked diligently to streamline regulatory processes, create an attractive investment climate, and instill confidence in domestic and international investors. These efforts have borne fruit through strategic partnerships that recognize the immense potential within our borders. These partnerships will be pivotal in building a sustainable and globally competitive mining industry.
“Our vision for the Mining Sector transcends mere resource extraction. We are firmly committed to conducting mining activities that are environmentally sustainable, socially responsible, and economically beneficial. We believe mining operations should serve as catalysts for community development and job creation and adhere to Industry Best Practices that minimise ecological footprint.
As we promote responsible and developmental extraction, we propagate value addition across the value chain as the essential principle of mineral development”, he said.
He declared that value addition in Nigeria’s mining sector was paramount to maximising the long-term benefits of the mineral resources.
“By adding value to our raw materials through processes like refining, processing, and manufacturing, we not only create higher-value products but also generate employment opportunities and increase the sector’s overall profitability,” he said.
He added the ministry was collaborating with research institutions and industry experts to develop innovative solutions for mineral exploration and extraction.
On his part, the minister of Steel Development, Prince Shuaibu Abubakar Audu said Nigeria’s critical minerals such as coal, tin, lead, limestone, and iron ore, among many others, if properly harnessed, hold the key to not only diversifying the economy but also significantly increasing its revenue streams.
“They are the bedrock upon which we can build a more prosperous, self-sufficient, and industrially advanced Nigeria.
“Allow me to emphasise the pivotal role of the steel sector in this journey towards revitalizing our economy. Steel, as we know, is the backbone of industrialization. It is a core ingredient for infrastructure development, manufacturing, and construction. Our commitment to developing the steel sector is unwavering because it holds the potential to create numerous jobs, attract investments, and contribute significantly to our Gross Domestic Product.
“It is on this heel that we have set out motions to diversify Nigeria’s economy and attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) by transforming the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited (ASCOL) complex into a Free Trade Zone, and designation of 24,000-hectare land of Ajaokuta as an Industrial Park. This strategic initiative aims to revitalise the steel industry, create jobs, and stimulate economic growth in the region thus creating an industrial park in the ancient city of Ajaokuta.
“This is in addition to the development of a three-year plan for Ajaokuta, and a broader five-year plan to expand steel production to other parts of the country. This comprehensive approach aims to harness Nigeria’s vast iron ore resources and leverage them for industrial growth”, he said.
In his address of welcome, the president, Miners Association of Nigeria, Dele Ayanleke, noted that the solid minerals sector was attracting heightened interest at the moment, especially as Nigeria is blessed with the minerals the world needs for energy transition. .
“It is also of importance to mention the coincidence of the global energy transition that is widely gaining momentum and the fact that Nigeria is richly endowed with the minerals that are highly needed for this global agenda.
“In view of the foregoing, therefore, the Miners Association of Nigeria, together with our partners, envisaged robust conversations that will birth pragmatic actions towards the accelerated growth of the sector to provide a veritable pivot for the diversification and broadening of the national economic space”, he said.
Samukelo Madlabane, event director, VUKA Group, South Africa, said the 2023 edition of the mining roundtable will help to position Nigeria as a world-class mining investment destination.
Senate committee chairman on Solid Minerals, Senator Osita Ngwu, said for Nigeria to make progress in the sector, the stakeholders must depart from the old ways of business as usual, especially in the area of illegal miners, adding that some of the delegates at the conference were guilty of the act.
“If we get it well, the sector will overtake the oil sector,” he said, adding that a pragmatic solid mineral sector will be driven by favourable laws by the National Assembly.
“We are ready to walk the talk with the stakeholders in this regard,” he assured.
The highlight of the event was the unveiling of Nigeria’s new geological map by the SGF, assisted by the ministers of solid minerals, steel development and trade and industry, among other dignitaries.