A dimension stones expert, Mr Oliseh Ejiofor, on Wednesday in Abuja urged government to ban the importation of the stone to develop the local market.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at the Mineral House headquarters of the ministry, Ejiofor said that the local industry was facing challenge of low patronage, as most of the stones utilised in the country were imported.
He said that although the peculiarity of the locally produced stones had put the sector in a disadvantaged position, â€œit could still be developed and marketedâ€.
According to him, the stones, which come in varieties of colours and shapes, have natural imperfections that require processing and polishing to be more attractive in the international market.
Ejiofor stressed that a lack of processing techniques, capacity training and information technology experienced by miners â€œis a huge challengeâ€™â€, resulting in the dependence on imported stones in spite of its abundance in the country.
â€œThis development is unfortunate given the potential for our domestically produced stones to meet local demand, as well as the possibility for exporting same to meet the huge foreign demand,â€ he said.
He called on the Mines and Steel Development Ministry to adopt measures to develop the sector, which he described as economically viable.
In a related development, the Minister, Mrs Dieziani Allison Madueke, has said that 90 per cent of dimension stones used in the country was exported from China, Italy and India. Dieziani, while expressing governmentâ€™s support to the development of the industry, said that the ministry had initiated a baseline study to develop strategic plan for the revitalisation and growth of the industry.
She listed the strategy to include creating an enabling environment for rapid investment through improving on legal and regulatory framework among others. NAN recalls that the ministry in 2008 engaged experts in the dimension industry to undertake baseline study with a view to evaluating the level and quality of processing in Nigeria.