Minister seeks support for development of mining sector

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

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The Federal Government has called for greater support from all stakeholders especially the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN, to fast track the development of mines and solid mineral sector.

Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Uche Ogah, made the call on Monday during a public hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy.

The public hearing was designed to get inputs of stakeholders on the establishment of four bills and an investigative hearing into the loss of nine billion dollars annually due to illegal mining and smuggling of gold.

The bills are: Nigerian Minerals Development Corporation Establishment Bill 2021, Solid Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission Establishment Bill 2021, Institute of Bitumen Management Establishment Bill 2021, Explosive Act 1964 Repeal and Re-enactment Bill 2021.

According to the minister, “it is unfortunate that the CBN did not believe in us. “If they believe in us, if they support us the way they are supporting agriculture, we will do wonders for this country.”

Research and export policy
Mr. Ogah who called for support in all areas for development of the sector, said there was need to support research for growth of the sector, describing it as untapped sector which “can change the land scope of our revenue”.

“Equally we need to ask the ministry of finance to speed up the export policy on solid minerals, because that is the only way to have operators into the sector,” he added.

Zonal processing plants
The Minister also confirmed that the Federal Government has established processing plants for the solid minerals sector which is currently under construction in all the six geopolitical zones.

“We are going to have processing plants for Gold, Bauxite, among others, to establish the downstream sector of the mines and steel development to ensure that there is processing in the sector.”

Mineral development commission bill
On the bill to establish the Nigerian Mineral Development Commission, the minister believes it is imperative to enlarge the minerals’ listed there, without limitation to only seven minerals, “because we have other minerals that are needed for industrial revolution”.

“We must look at how to fast-track development of these mineral resources, and so we must look at the relationship between the federal ministry and the state government.”

Dr. Ogah urged the senate to wade into issues between the mineral act and the land use act, as it was an issue between the ministry and the states.

He commended the Senate and President Muhammadu Buhari for using the ministry as the channel to drive development of the sector.

Chairman of the Committee, Senator Tanko Almakura, said the bills were designed to accelerate diversification of the economy through the solid minerals, and the mining sector as a whole.

He said the bills, when passed would make the sector more attractive for investors, given the abundance of solid minerals resources in all parts of the country.

 

Nneka Ukachukwu

 

 

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