By Chris Agabi
The Minister of Solid minerals has listed seven priority areas aimed at growing the solid minerals space and adding value to Nigeria.
The solid minerals industry, although holds huge economic potentials to Nigeria, has been largely neglected and left for illegal miners to feast on.
At a press briefing at the weekend, the Minister of Solid Minerals, Mr. Dele Alake unfolded his agenda for the transformation of the Solid Minerals sector for international competitiveness and domestic prosperity.
He said his ministry will focus on a seven-point agenda, including “the creation of the Nigerian Solid Minerals Corporation, Joint Ventures with Mining Multinationals, Big Data on specific seven priority minerals and their deposits, 30-day grace for illegal miners to join artisanal cooperatives, Mines Surveillance Task Force and Mine Police, Comprehensive review of all mining licenses and the creation of six (6) Mineral Processing Centres to focus on Value-Added products.”
According to him, “in the next 4 years and beyond, the Federal Government will intervene and drive investments into the Mining sector while major intervention will be on 7 minerals namely: Gold, Coal, Limestone, Bitumen, Lead, Iron-ore and Baryte.”
At the moment, he noted “Nigeria has an estimated reserves which include Gold (1 million ounces); Limestone (568million metric tonnes), Lead/Zinc, (Baryte (15 million metric tonnes), Bitumen (1.1 billion barrels), Iron Ore (3 billion Metric Tonnes) and Coal (396 million).”
He revealed to tame illegal mining, from “October, a rejuvenated security regime will become active in the solid minerals sector. This will include the Mine Police, sourced from the Nigeria Police and specially trained to detect illegal mining and apprehend offenders. The new Mines Surveillance Security Task Force will coordinate the Mines Police and proactively address high risk incidences of breach of Mining Laws. The Federal and State governments will also be encouraged to allocate the prosecution of cases against illegal miners to competent courts.”
On the focus areas, the minister said that “the ministry has identified several factors such as inefficient geo-data, weak implementation and enforcement, poor environmental, safety, and health policies, fragility and conflict, unregulated artisanal mining, low technical capacity, lack of access to financing, weak inter-governmental and inter-agency coordination and weak federal/state relations as the major reasons the sector is underperforming.”
In the coming months, economyfootprint.com.will.follow the conversation to monitor progress on this promise by the minister.