By Luka Binniyat
ABUJA â€“â€“ TheÂ Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Minerals and Steel Development, Engr. Shiek Musa Goni announced yesterday that Mining Cadastre Office (MCO) of the Ministry has processed and unprecedented 9,300 applications for various kinds of mineral titles from October last year to February this year.
Goni who made this revelation at the opening ceremony of a retreat organised by the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA) for its staff in Abuja, said that ample evidence exist to show that Nigerian mining sector will enjoy a boom in the next few years.
â€œMining is an activity that has a long gestation period and, mining is not the kind of economic activity you read in the papers everydayâ€, he said.
â€œRight now as I speak, there are hundreds and hundreds of companies carrying out studies, and exploration activities in Nigerian bushesâ€, he said.
â€œSome are forging understanding and making agreements with their potential host communities while others are carrying out their Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as mandated under the Minerals and Metal Act of 2007â€, he said,
â€œIt takes some years to plan, get financing to establish a mining camp and siteâ€, he said.
â€œWe are now in the study stage, and I am very happy to say that between the next three or five years, there will be a mining boom in Nigeria again, even more than what we had in the pastâ€, he said.
â€œThis is the best of times for Nigerian geologist, because you cannot find a competent, experienced Nigerian geologist idle nowâ€, he said.
â€œThey are in the filed, in the labs making good money from both local and foreign firms with exploration licensesâ€â€, he said
â€œWe have done what is expected of us and the result is very positiveâ€, he said.
Speaking in the same vein, the Director General of NGSA, Prof. Siyan Malomo said that since the 95% completion of Geo-physical survey of Nigeria by the Agency, not less than 400 foreign and local companies have visit the NGSA for maps and data on Nigeria minerals.
â€œThat means that we get at one company per day indicating interest in our sectorâ€, he said
â€œAgain, last year alone, 63 foreign firms bought our maps and dataâ€, he said.
According to him, the NGSA is assiduously working to ensuring that Nigeria becomes an internationally competitive an attractive destination for capital intensive, profitable exploration of Nigeriaâ€s mineral resources.
â€œWe intend to attract at least 200 reputable junior mining companies by 2015, and 5000 of them by 2020â€, he said.
In his contribution, the Coordinator, Sustainable Management Mineral Resources Projects (SMMRP), Mr. Linus Adie, said the NGSA has lifted Nigeria into a mining country in Africa.
â€œWhen we went to the Mining Iâ€NDABA conference in Cape Town, South Africa to talk to investors about our mineral and metal potentials about three four years agoâ€, he said, â€œwe loaded a vehicle with analogue maps and stones, and nobody took us serious thenâ€, he said.
â€œBut this year, when we went to the same conference after the completion of the GoePhysical survey, we went with just a brief case containing digital maps of Nigerian geologyâ€, he said.
â€œThe attention we got was unbelievable investors where all over us, making inquiries It was the same when we went to CanadaÂ Â .He said that the SMMRP is helping in building capacity for the sector, saying that the first intake of the SMMRP-funded Nigerian Institute of Mining and Geosciences Jos, have matriculated.
He also said that SMMRP has ordered for the latest state-of-the-art laboratory analysis equipments for the Nigerian Geological Survey Office, Kaduna.He also expressed the same enthusiasm for the Nigerian mining sector.