In keeping faith to revising Nigeria’s mining legislation and its ambiguity, the APC-led administration has made appreciable efforts to diversify the economy by developing solid minerals so as to dilute the dominance of the oil and gas sector in revenue generation and foreign earnings within the past four years.
First and foremost, Dr Kayode Fayemi, the present governor of Ekiti State and a man with solid civil society background was appointed to head the ministry. Fayemi gathered experts to draw the roadmap for solid mineral development in the country.
The implementation of the points on the map has resulted in the numerous under-mentioned achievements of the ministry. Today, exports in the solid minerals sector was a record N26. 9 billion hit in first quarter of 2018, as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, on total foreign trade. According to NBS, the amount represents 0.55 per cent of total trade in the sector, which stood at N39.6 billion, while imported solid minerals stood at N12.6 billion representing 17.3 per cent.
The report by the agency showed that the highest exported solid mineral in the first quarter was Naphthalene, which N13. 4 billion worth of the commodity was exported to the United States of America, followed by the Netherlands at N4.5 billion. Other highly exported solid mineral under review within the period was Zinc ore and concentrates of N2.4 billion to China, followed by Cement to Togo and Ghana which stood at N1.8 billion, and N0.4 billion, respectively. Lead ore was also exported to South Korea and China to the tune of N0.38 billion, and N0.3 billion respectively within the period.
Meanwhile, the report stated that Nigeria’s solid minerals import in the first quarter of 2018 stood at N12. 6 billion, while plaster of calcined gypsum.
Also, the federal government recently released the sum of N12 billion to fund nationwide geological explorations and generate bankable data to guide investment decisions.
The National Council on Mining and Mineral Resources Development is also on ground to interface relevant sector players, public and private and chart a new course forward. The state mineral resources and environmental management committees are created in the extant law, to advise and liaise with various arms of government in the grant of mineral titles, safe mining practices, environmental management, compensation and the Land Use Act.
Solid mineral mining activities have increased as a result of the establishment of a regulatory institution to streamline activities in the sector which among others, include the plan to invest $7billion in the sector in the next decade; encouragement given to foreign investors with incentives including tax holidays; reclaiming Ajaokuta Steel Complex from the Indian Company, Global Steel Holding Limited, that had earlier acquired it; and the renegotiation of the concession agreement entered into with the Indians on the Nigerian Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe.
Importantly, the administration has also assigned states the special role of granting consent before issuing mining licenses and giving them 13 per cent solid mineral-related revenues generated in their respective jurisdictions. These have combined to make the sector to increase its contribution to the federation account from N700million in 2015 to N2bn in 2016, and N3.5bn in 2017.
The then minister of Mines and Steel Development, Fayemi, disclosed that after securing a $150 million loan from the World Bank in the early 2018 for strategic interventions in the mining sector, the government plans to put in place, another $600 million to further boost the sector. He explained that the loan from the World Bank is for the Mindiver Project aimed at funding strategic interventions in the sector. ‘‘Plans are also underway to assemble a $600 million investment fund for the sector, working with entities such as the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, the Nigerian Stock Exchange and others.”
According to him, the $150 million World Bank loan and the $600 million fresh funding are a far departure from the past when funds available to the ministry was meagre. He cited 2015 as a case, noting that only N1 billion was allocated to the ministry for that year, out of which only N352 million was released. Fayemi listed other achievements of the ministry since the new reforms introduced by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to include improved Perception of the Nigerian Mining Jurisdiction; improved Institutional Capacity/Improved Mines Security; improved Sectoral Access to Finance and the institutional capacities of the ministry and its agencies in regulating the sector.
The mining sector remains a priority of this administration and continues to grow by 2.24 per cent since the inception of APC administration. Indeed, the huge investment by the APC government in the mining sector in the last four years is an eloquent proof of its commitment to diversify the nation’s economy.
Usman and Abdullahi are with Progressive Governors Forum, Abuja.
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