$7billion needed to kick-start mines, steel industry–Fayose

The Federal Government is seeking investments worth $7bn in mining and steel over the next decade as it targets the development of gold and iron ore extraction industries to diversify the nation’s oil-dependent economy.

One of the government’s priorities is to meet the annual steel demand of 6.8 million metric tonnes, from a current output of a third of that, produced mainly from scrap iron, according to the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.

“About $5bn will kick-start the mining sector. In two to five years, we want to have started production of iron ore, lead, zinc, bitumen, nickel, coal and gold at a serious scale,” Bloomberg quoted Fayemi as saying. “Companies considering investments in Nigeria’s mining industry include Lagos-based Multiverse Mining & Exploration Plc and Kogi Iron Limited, based in West Perth, Australia,” he said.

Boosting mining output, along with developing agriculture and infrastructure, is part of plans to broaden the economy, which is Africa’s second-largest oil producer. Crude accounts for around 70 per cent of the country’s revenue and 13 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product, according to the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun.

Global oil prices, which fell from over $100 a barrel of Brent crude in 2014 to under $50 a barrel currently, and reduced output due to militants’ attacks on pipelines in the Niger Delta region, have squeezed state finances and caused a chronic dollar shortage.

Fayemi will this month present a mining plan to President Muhammadu Buhari and later a bill proposing the creation of a regulator for the sector.

“Currently, the ministry does everything: licensing, monitoring, inspection, and it shouldn’t be like that,” Fayemi said.

Prospective investors had expressed concern about an uncertain regulatory environment, he said.

An autonomous agency would be better positioned to focus on performance and efficiency of the sector, according to the minister.