RUTH TENE NATSA writes that the fact that the President Muhammadu Buhari- led administration has identified solid minerals as one of its key pillars of diversification is plausible just as government’s commitment to developing the once neglected sector has attracted the attention of West Africa and the global mining community.
The three-day National Mining Summit which began on Tuesday, June 13 2017, and ended Thursday June 15, 2017, was a gathering of mining stakeholders spanning investors, financiers, miners, policymakers and marketers of mining equipment from Nigeria and across the West Africa region
The summit, which could be identified as Nigeria’s greatest commitment to developing the solid minerals sector since its collapse in the seventies drew participants and key players from the region.
At the opening ceremony,goodwill messages were delivered by the president of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr Marcel Alain de Souza, high commissioner of Australia to Nigeria, Paul Lehman, minister of mineral resources, Rep. of South Africa Mosebenzi Joseph Zwane and the cabinet secretary for mining, Kenya Dan Kazungu
Delivering the keynote address, Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo said, “The mining sector is a priority for the Nigerian government and a crucial part of Nigeria’s economic growth and diversification agenda.
“There is therefore now no better time to make that long overdue transition, from an oil base economy to a true diversified, global competitive one, creating tens of thousands of jobs and promoting industrialisation in the process.”
He assured that the federal government was determined to achieve these goals for the mining sector in spite of the many challenges it inherited including low funding, lack of geological data, weak institutional capacity of the supervisory ministry, limited infrastructure, limited cooperative federalism, low productivity, weak frameworks for managing host communities, difficulties in doing business and protracted litigation on legacy assets.
He stressed that in addressing these challenges “We started tackling these issues head on and are pleased to note substantial successes were achieved through the combined efforts of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and other ministries and agencies of government, and our development partners and other stakeholders.
“We published a comprehensive roadmap for the growth and development of the Nigerian mining sector, to guide and drive the restructuring and repositioning of the mining sector over the next ten years and secured funding from both domestic and international sources for investment in the solid minerals industry.
He added that “From the public purse, the ministry of mines and steel development has been granted access to the mining sector component of our natural resources development fund for a sum of N30billion, approximately $100.An intervention fund from the federal government to help provide cheap loans to industry participants as well as for directly investing in foundational infrastructure .
“We are currently working with the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, the Nigerian Stock Exchange and others to assemble a $600million investment fund for the sector. He added that nationally, we have secured 150million dollars in funding from the World Bank, for the Minerals Sector Support for Economic Diversification (MSSED)/MINDIVER
He maintained that “Aside financial investment, we are also addressing the challenge of lack of geological data. The NGSA is undertaking the additional ground investigation nationwide to upgrade our national minerals data base so that we can more easily attract financial investors as well as assure operators of the sort of operations required for further operations and mining.
“We have also signed MoUs and technical cooperation agreements with the China Geological Survey, Shandong Minerals Exploitation Agency and the National Office of Hydro Carbons and Mines of Morocco. The collaborations are intended to leverage on the experience and state- of- the art technologies of these organisations in assisting Nigeria generate investor friendly geoscience data.
Also speaking, the chief executive officer of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Mr Oscar Onyema said for the Nigerian mining sector, current statistics present an immense opportunity for growth.
“Today the sector accounts for 0.02 per cent of exports, 0.3 per cent of national employment and contributes 0.5 per cent an estimated $2.0 billion to the nation’s GDP.
“This representation pales in comparison to global trends for the sector as he observed that in 2015, the South African mining industry contributed $19.6 billion towards the country’s GDP representing 7.1 per cent of overall GDP. The Canadian mining sector contributed $56.0 billion (3.4 per cent) to GDP and accounted for 19 per cent of its export value in the same year, while the Australian mining sector on the other hand contributed 6.9 per cent ($114.9 billion) to GDP in 2016.
The Exchange CEO maintained that “Globally, the metals and mining sector is among the largest industry sectors by the number of companies in operation and its employment size.”
He stressed that the role of the capital market in harnessing the Nigerian mining sector’s potential and providing entrepreneurs with access to large, affordable funding for capital intensive projects cannot be overemphasized.
“Investors typically look to the capital market for credible issuers for wealth creation, while the issuers leverage the capital mark
et to attract global investments, resulting in enhanced corporate governance and a diverse pool of investors,” he said.
He added, “The Nigerian Stock Exchange is well-positioned as a premiere listing destination for African corporates, governments and international issuers looking to access the capital market of the largest economy in Africa. With a total market capitalisation of N19.1trillon ($62.6billion) as at June 9th 2017 across all asset classes, The Exchange provides a platform to raise both equity and fixed income capital for project financing and business expansion.
Onyema also encouraged the federal and state governments as well as the mining industry to look seriously at leveraging the opportunities that abound in the Nigerian capital market adding that “The Exchange also looks forward to working closely with the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development towards achieving its mandate of establishing a $600million investment fund for the sector.”
Also speaking, minister of mines and steel development, Dr Kayode Fayemi , added that one of the priority goals of the present administration was to position the country’s mining sector to play a greater role in sustainably diversifying her revenue base, creating jobs and fast tracking industrialisation.
He was optimistic that that was not a tall order as Nigeria is evidently endowed with an abundance of mineral resources.
The minister however added that “We realise that we cannot go very far with our agenda if we do not feature strongly in the reckoning of the international mining community as a serious mining destination.
“This is why our ministry has partnered with Afrocet Montgomery, working with Deloitte to host CONMIN West Africa, in demonstration of our commitment to signalling the renaissance of our mining sector and to naturally take the lead in driving the achievement of the objectives of the AMV.”
Meanwhile, the exhibition director, Afrocet Montgomery, George Pearson, said ConMin West Africa is promoted by Afrocet Montgommery and IMAG a subsidiary of Messe Munich.
“Afrocet understanding of the markets in West Africa makes it a perfect partnership with Montgomery to take home, develop and build on exhibitions in the region and look at expanding the portfolio in line with the ever changing markets in Africa,” he said.
He added that IMAG is a subsidiary of Messe Munich and its portfolios portfolios include 30 trade fairs in 20 countries.
“Since the foundation of the company in 1946, IMAG has participated in 5000international exhibitions as an organiser, cooperation partner or implementation company for official trade fair participation,” he said.
Pearson revealed that ConMin West Africa had been launched as an annual event in Nigeria, assuring that “As organisers, we now want to build on this first event, working with relevant stakeholders with the common aim of establishing ConMin West Africa as a leading world class platform for all participants in the construction, infrastructure and mining sectors.”