Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Abubakar Bawa Bwari has stated that though pragmatic steps are being taken to make Nigeria self-sufficient in the construction industry, there is a yawning gap in steel demand that the country still imports $3.3 billion worth of steel annually.
Minister disclosed this at a Mines and Money event in London, with the theme: “The Business Case for Nigeria, as a Mining Destination”, held recently. He said many investment opportunities have been unlocked in Nigeria’s mines and steel sector by the current administration in the quest to diversify the economy.
He said: “We recently launched a roadmap for the development of industrial minerals aimed at making Nigeria self-sufficient in the construction industry and free up opportunities for the development of quicklime for water treatment, dimension stones for construction, calcium carbonate, gypsum and talc for pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and other manufacturing industries, and Bentonite and Barites for the oil and gas industry.
“Investors can therefore take advantage of the gaps which remain very huge in many areas. For instance, despite the efforts of companies like Kogi Iron and the African Natural Resources and Mines Ltd which is planning to operate a 500,000 metric tons per annum steel plant, complete with a 35 megawatts power plant for captive consumption, Nigeria still imports an estimated $3.3 billion worth of steel and associated derivatives annually.
“There are also opportunities to be found in the establishment of ISO certified laboratories and in setting up metal extraction and refining plants in Nigeria because the steel rolling Mills in the country are sustained by 100% scrap metals,” he said.
In a bid to have enough of the mining facilitating infrastructure the Minister said the Nigerian government has initiated a partnering scheme with the private sector for the provision of infrastructure through the National Integrated Infrastructure Masterplan, adding that investors can therefore enter into Public-Private-Partnership arrangement with government to provide mining infrastructure.
“As you can see, the opportunities for investment are many and the return on investment could be quite high. As a result, there has been a lot of renewed interest in formal mining in Nigeria and the number of mineral titles held by investors is on the rise,” he noted.
The Minister who lamented “huge gap” in production and demand, however said, “We have been able to bridge that gap in some places like in cement production in which we are self sufficient.
“We hope to do same with phosphate so as to meet our fertiliser needs. With over 70 percent of the Nigerian population being farmers, this is one business that cannot fail if handled right.”
He told the gathering that the Nigerian government is very serious about de-risking the mining sector through better management of artisanal miners, better policing of the mining environment for safety and environmental compliance, increased exploration activities for quality data collection and better collaboration with stakeholders in the mining sector.
“Permit me therefore to use this forum to assure investors gathered here today that it is now so much easier to do mining business in Nigeria and we are more than prepared to welcome them with open arms,” he concluded.