ABUJA – The Minister of Mines and Steel, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, has disclosed efforts by government to ensure increased exploration of gold and other minerals in the country in the next couple of years.
The objective of the government, she noted, is to create a robust mining sector that could positively contribute to sustainable development in the country and the achievement of the Vision 20:2020 of government.
Alison-Madueke stated this on Tuesday, in an address titled: Development of the Mining Sector: The Journey So Far, at the presentation of the Phase 2 Data of the Nigerian Airbourne Geophysical Survey, in Abuja .
In the case of gold, she noted that the coring done last year by one of the mining companies, to the depth of 3,000 metres, had proved more than 300,000 ounces, with 2 million ounces estimated.
â€œThe importance of this fantastic piece of news is probably best appreciated within the context of the knowledge that Nigeria has gold schist belts in the western half of the country that are similar to those of Ghana,â€ the minister disclosed.
A document obtained from the ministry by our correspondent observed that recent investigation by the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA) and private exploration and mining companies has continued to shed light on the endowment and the potentials of the country in gold mineralization.
Between the years 2006 and 2008, the NGSA has carried out evaluation and assessment of key commodities nationwide and gold is one of the areas given priority.
It added that beyond the known areas of gold mineralization, more than seven states including Ogun, Osun, Kwara, Cross River, Kebbi, Kogi and Oyo have shown great prospect for the resource.
Alison-Madueke noted that Nigeria is richly endowed with a range of solid minerals, which when properly managed and exploited have the potential of becoming in the near future, the engine for the nation’s economic growth.
She added, â€œOf remarkable note is that there is not one state without the presence of at least a solid mineral.â€
According to her, a fundamental requirement for investors in the mining sector is access to geosciences data, relative to the location and estimates of the minerals.
â€œMindful of this fact, we have completed airborne magnetic survey of 95% of the country landmark, with some of the results interpreted and presented to the public today. We are also diligently working on the geological, mineral, and geo-chemical mapping of the country,â€ she said.
The government’s vision of the mining sector, she said, is to aggressively reform the sector through the provision of competitive fiscal and regulatory framework, institutional development, capacity building and the generation of reliable geo-scientific data that would aid mining investment.
Alison-Madueke explained that data from the survey is â€œuseful for mineral exploration, ground water prospectin, pollution and geo-hazard monitoring.
â€œThe survey also measures the Digital Elevation Model (DEM) and the Shuttle Radar Topographic Mission (SRTM) which provide detailed information on terrains, vegetations, landforms, settlements, roads and drainages. The data therefore is useful in security surveillance and development planning,â€ she added.
Meanwhile, the minister has disclosed that the ministry has reached an arrangement with internationally renowned Nigerian-born jeweler, Chris Aire, to design a jewelry line using Nigerian gemstones exclusively.
This move, she explained was borne out of the ministry’s focus to bring unique Nigeria ‘s gemstones to global knowledge and reputation.
She said, â€œIn pursuit of bringing greater awareness to Nigeria ‘s gemstones, some of which are quite unique, the Ministry has reached an agreement with an internationally renowned Nigerian-born jeweler, to design a jewelry line using Nigerian gemstones exclusively.
â€œIt is our expectation that this line of jewelry will be displayed at both international arenas such as in Hollywood, and domestic fashion events in March 2010.