By Gabriel Ewepu
The Nigerian Society of Mining Engineers, NSME, has called on the Federal Government to muster the political will to develop the solid minerals sector, its President, Mr Benjamin Onwude, urged at the NSME Conference held in Jos, Plateau State, recently.
According to Onwude the government must ensure that the solid minerals that abound across the states is harnessed with all sense of commitment as it did with the oil and gas sector if it is committed to drastically reducing unemployment and creating wealth in the country.
He said: “There should be no doubt that the mining industry has the potential to become once again the principal engine of economic growth of our country. The development of solid minerals requires a strong political will and patriotism to succeed.
“Nigeria has put in place a new mining code and economic policy aimed at repositioning itself as a country with mining opportunities in order to attract foreign investment to minerals sector and improve its hard currency earnings.”
He however noted that for the government to really develop the mining sector as expected by stakeholders the necessary infrastructure are to be put in place.
“For government to achieve its laudable dreams, it had to tackle the various challenges bordering on lack of appropriate data on minerals, inadequate mining related infrastructure, lack of indigenous technology and equipment, high cost of electricity as well as low domestic market for solid minerals.
“Also, the government needs to tackle the issues of security, artisanal mining, shortage of experienced and skilled workforce, lack of research and development, demand for sustainable environmental practice as well as inadequate funding of mining institutions,” he said.
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Mr. Umar Baba Farouk, who was represented by Director of Mines Inspectorate Department, Mr. Dauda Awojobi, expressed optimism that the sector can be reinvented and repositioned for greater productivity.