Says work to start on NIOMCO before Ajaokuta Steel Coy

By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Architect Olamilekan, Monday, disclosed that the third edition of the National Council on Mining and Mineral Resources Development, NCMMRD, will woo local investors to the mining sector.

Adegbite stated this during a media briefing ahead of the council meeting scheduled to take place between Wednesday, November 6 and Friday, November 8 in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State.

He said that the council meeting whose theme for 2019 is, ‘Nigeria’s Mineral and Metal Sector: Spectrum for Investment Opportunities for Economic Growth and Development’, is crucial following moves by the federal government to revamp major companies and place the sector on a more productive path, hence to attract foreign investors who will believe in the nation’s mining sector based on the commitment of local investors in the sector.

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According to him some of the highlights of the meeting include minerals and metals sector; strategy for sustainable mining and value addition; minerals and metals governance: fostering synergy among the 3-tiers of government; addressing the challenges of Informal mining activities for improved revenue Generation; addressing Security challenges in the Mining Sector; and addressing the infrastructure gaps in the minerals and metals sector.

Participants at the meeting are National Assembly members, State Assembly members, commissioners from the states, Special Advisers, mining operators, manufacturers, businessmen and women, and people that are interested in the industry.

The Minister also stated some of the achievements from the past two editions of the council’s meeting held in Abuja and Kaduna respectively had led to improved operational collaboration, enhanced communication, implementation of the roadmap, improved transparent mineral title administration, improvement in the ease of doing business, nationwide carbonate rock exploration of the NGSA, annual hosting of the Nigeria Mining Week, obtained FEC’s approval for the award of N15 billion contracts to five exploration companies for the purposes of exploring priority minerals including Gold, Lead, Zinc, iron ore, and Rare earth metals, completed fieldwork on the exploration of Sokoto Phosphate and work is on-going. Discussions are ongoing with OCP (largest phosphate producer in the world) of Morocco to carry out cross beneficiation tests for NGSA, and others.

He said: “This is the third edition of the mining council which is coming up in Ado-Ekiti because the immediate past Minister of the Ministry is now the Governor of Ekiti State. So it is no coincidence that he is the one hosting us.

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“I think it is very appropriate because most of the major policy thrust that we are trying to achieve, especially as stakeholders as in governors he is best placed to help us achieve this.

“Not only he is a governor but because he is the chairman of the Governors Forum. So a lot of our push in that direction will work if we can get him to convince his colleagues to abide by the rules laid down for mining.

“The third edition of this council has as its theme, “Nigeria’s Mineral and Metal Sector: Spectrum for Investment Opportunities for Economic Growth and Development” is going to be the main theme for this year.

“Basically, what we are trying to say is deepen the sector as it were. Let people be aware of opportunities that abound in this. The government itself cannot be a player we are regulators, but at the same time, we want our investing public, stakeholders to be, especially Nigerians to be aware of the opportunities that abound in the mining and steel sector.

“Of course they can put their money in and the best investment is the local investment. So basically what we will be doing at Ekiti is to avail the public of the spectrum of investment opportunities and economic growth in steel and mining.”

Meanwhile, the Minister disclosed that work will soon start at National Iron Ore Mining Company Limited, NIOMCO, Itakpe, Kogi State, ahead of Ajaokuta Steel Company, which initially was not part of agreements reached with the Russian government at the Russia-Africa Summit, held in Sochi, but now has been factored in.

“Most of the plans that have been going on did not take full cognizance the importance of NIOMCO to Ajaokuta Steel Company. The government-to-government agreement we had the funding from Afro Sine Bank, Russia Export Centre did not fully factor in NIOMCO, but those are being corrected after our visit. Right now a meeting is going on in Russia and NIOMCO is fully on the table.

“Work on NIOMCO might even start earlier than Ajaokuta Steel Company itself because NIOMCO needs to stockpile materials in Ajaokuta Steel Company so by the time Ajaokuta Steel Company comes on stream it must have sufficient stock of raw materials for production”, he stated.



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