The Federal Government on Thursday urged states government to stop interfering in mining operations in the country in order to attract private investors to the industry.
Dr Abdulkadir Mu’azu, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development said this in Ado-Ekiti at the 3rd National Council on Mining and Mineral Resources Development (NCMMRD) conference.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the three-day council meeting is: “Nigeria Minerals and Metal Sector: Spectrum for Investment Opportunities for Economic Growth and Development.
Muazu blamed the lack of interest of investors in the sector to undue interference of most states governments.
He maintained that as long as state governments were meddling in mining operations in their respective states, the private sector would not be interested.
“Many states act in a way like they do not believe in the Constitution, states must accept that as at today, mineral resources are under the exclusive list, solid minerals do not belong to the states.
“The oil and gas that is in the Niger Delta do not only belong to the states, just like the Bitumen in Ondo State does not only belong to the state.
“Therefore, when the Federal Government grants licences according to the provisions of the law, the person holding the license is not responsible to the state government but has to work for the state,” he said.
The permanent secretary explained that this was why investors could never get a license without a community development agreement.
He added that unlike oil that was found in a few states of the federation, solid minerals were found in every state.
According to him, this is why the country is not yet a mining destination in spite of its huge mineral resources.
The permanent secretary noted that Mali had a gold mining investment worth more than four billion dollars, saying that no investor had invested one billion dollars in mining in Nigeria.
“Because states governments were largely interfering, they feel when you have a license, you have to come to them,’’ he said.
He, however, said that because the government could not fund mining operations since it was capital intensive, it created a conducive environment to attract the private sector to mining.
Mu’azu said that in spite of the challenges, the Federal Government would continue to work with state governments to ensure a better mining environment for investors.
NAN reports that the NCMMRD is the highest decision-making body on policy matters on mining and mineral resources development in the country.
Discussions at the meeting focused on strategies for sustainable mining and value addition, addressing security challenges in the sector and how to foster synergy among the three tiers of government, among others.
Stakeholders in the mining sector from the 36 states of the federation are attending the three-day council meeting.
Most of the stakeholders, however, said there was the need for the Federal Government to review the Mining Act
NAN also reports that the meeting which is being hosted by the Ekiti State Government is expected to review current trends in the sector and proffer ways of moving it forward.
The meeting is being attended by states commissioners and permanent secretaries in charge of mining and mineral resources from the 36 states of the federation, academia, private sector, security agencies and leaders of mining unions.