There are indications that efforts of the Federal Government in getting the Solid minerals sector of the economy off the ground are yet to be activated. It is trite to say that the nation is abundantly blessed with so much of Solid minerals.
Recently, the Minister of Solid Minerals Development Dr. Kayode Fayemi, a man of intellect and an astute public sector resource manager, gave a worrisome content on the strategic initiatives of the ministry.
He told the audience at a stakeholders meeting held in Guma Local Government Area of Benue State, that the Federal Government could ban the importation of certain minerals it considers high priority. These minerals are limestone, barites, iron, bitumen, lead and zinc. He hoped that the ban, if implemented, would help stimulate the local mining industry.
Information at our disposal and possibly well known to all the stakeholders is that Nigeria’s solid minerals industry has not been developed to a level competitive enough to make a ban effective. We believe this should be addressed by the government rather than recourse to fiat in a global market system.
The offer of duty free importation on all mining equipments, as well as the tax holiday which the minister claimed to be the best in the world appears to be begging the question since these incentives have never moved the sector forward. The ministry needs to be more strategic in identifying the sector’s problems and designing the solution to fit the uniqueness of Nigeria’s environment and society.
The other issue of concern is the numbers reeled out on the mineral deposits as well as the government’s priorities. Dr Fayemi told the audience that there are 40 minerals in the country, out of which the ministry has selected seven strategic ones for concentration.
Whereas, in this same country, the Raw Materials Research and Development Council, is counting hundreds of mineral deposits. A proper identification of the nation’s natural endowments needs to be done to guide the Federal Government in determining informed priorities.
The minister was worried that Benue, Nasarawa and Cross River states have large quantities of barytes to satisfy the needs of the oil and gas companies. But the issue has been that the country’s solid mineral industry is yet to be globally competitive in terms of quality and cost.
For Nigeria, the most plausible of all the minister said was that there was still much work to be done in terms of funding and creating an enabling environment for mining in the country. We agree with the minister’s position that the government needs to massively inject funds and create good market environment for full mining activities to take place in the country.
We support this thinking as the way forward.