Referencing recent comments credited to Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, to the effect that there was still much work to be done in terms of funding and creating an enabling environment for mining in the country, we have expressed support for this position while admonishing that more action should be seen in this direction than hitherto the case.
Dr Fayemi told the audience at a solid minerals stakeholders’ meeting held recently in Benue State that the Federal Government needed to massively inject funds and create good market environment for full mining activities to take place in the country.
While we fully align with this position, we want to advise that what is required is more of capacity building. We expect to see a government driven machinery armed with credible, adequate information on what is currently going on in the industry and what needs to be done to have a modern mining industry that competes effectively in a globalised market.
There still remains a huge knowledge gap in terms of hard and soft skills in the industry, and in terms of technology application. In most locations, crude processing is still in vogue.
In the circumstance, the position of the ministry in the proposed ban on imports and exports appears a no-brainer. We object to the prevalence of importations of processed minerals.
In another development, the Minister said the government would also ban exportation of raw solid minerals in October this year.
We are of the view that banning exports of raw solid minerals is not plausible in an environment where processing is still at rudimentary stage and where those that trade in the raw material have no incentive to process.
His observation that a lot of illegality was taking place in the sector and that people were just shipping out raw minerals is tenable.
We align with the desire to have a processed raw materials export industry which would also increase employment and the sector’s contribution to gross domestic product (GDP). But we believe better result could be achieved by focusing on assisting investors to develop capacity to process and supportive infrastructure for setting up processing plants.
We urge the Federal Government to re-legislate mining rights to the concurrent list where states and local governments in conjunction with host communities have rights over exploitation of solid minerals in their domain.
Under such arrangement, more hands would be on deck in raising participation and funding for development of the sector. Restricting imports and exports of raw solid minerals is a regression to a command economy which, in a globalised market system is bound to fail.