The Federal Government said today that it has been taking action to curtail illicit miners’ operations across the nation, an issue that it claimed had seriously harmed the nation’s economy.
Olamilekan Adegbite, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, said this in Abuja and said that one of the ministry’s initiatives has been to coordinate 4,000 mining cooperatives while enforcing laws against unregistered miners and other illicit activities in the industry.
Adegbite said, “We want to add value of beneficiation in the sector to enable us redirect it. We are de-risking the sector to make it attractive for investors.
“Our current reforms are yielding results. You need to see what the sector is contributing to the GDP 10 years ago and now to appreciate the reforms. For instance, we were doing less than a billion naira contribution to the GDP 10 years ago, but now it is more than N10 billion.”
Adegbite acknowledged that there was still a problem with illicit mining but revealed that the ministry was working with the Nigeria Customs Service and the Nigeria Immigration Service to address the issue.
He said that the present administration had increased its efforts to de-risk the industry with a $100 million investment, which he claimed had increased investors’ interest in the industry.
The Buhari-led administration’s initiatives, he continued, “have assisted us in obtaining data for the industry, which is presently pushing up investors’ enthusiasm for the sector.”
Commenting on why Nigeria does not economically outperform Australia and South Africa in terms of mining advantages, Adegbite claimed that the discovery of oil diverted Nigeria’s attention away from expanding mining investments.
“These countries have been doing mining for over 200 years without interruption. Petroleum discovery swayed Nigeria’s interest in mining, with less investments by the government on mining exploration,” he said.
He also explained that global miners were finding their way to Nigeria due to lower cost of exploration, when compared with established global mining jurisdictions.
“It takes about $400 to mine gold in Nigeria, whereas in established jurisdictions like Australia and United Kingdom, it takes to up to $1,200 to mine an ounce of gold,” he said.
The minister added that upbeat investors from Canada and the United Kingdom had expressed interest in Nigeria’s mining sector, as the government intensifies efforts to de-risk the sector.
He also said the government had commenced enforcement of the beneficiation order, as approved by the Federal Executive Council, to disallow scavenging and raw exports of Nigeria’s solid mineral resources.
“I was in Saudi Arabia and the Tesla people approached us and requested to mine our lithium. I told them to come and build their battery factory in our country rather than explore the raw resources. This is how we are growing our beneficiation strategy and adding value to our mineral resources.
“In the last two years, people have come in from the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States to advance discussions with us on investments in the mining sector. All these are because of reforms in the sector,” he added.