By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc Olamilekan Adegbite, Wednesday, wooed investors in the United Kingdom, UK, with investment potentials and incentives in the mining sector.
Adegbite who was the Chief Host at a Conference held in the UK with theme, ‘Nigeria Beyond Oil’ told participants that the government in Nigeria had embarked on several economic reforms to make the mining system robust and conducive for investors and operators as the government embarks on diversifying the nation’s economy through the sector, which he seized the opportunity to showcase Nigeria’s mineral and mining potentials including incentives.
According to him globally for over four decades, Nigeria is known to be an oil and gas producing and exporting nation, hence the focus on the oil and gas sector that led to 30 years underdevelopment and stagnation of the solid minerals sector that would have been a hub of investment.
He said: “President Muhammadu Buhari Administration met serious challenges in the mining sector occasioned by long neglect. It was apparent that we must re-enact the ‘Nigeria before oil’ policies, when the sector contributed as much as 5.6 per cent in 1980 to the national Gross Domestic Product, GDP.
“Our approach to the enactment of a ‘Nigeria Beyond Oil’ era is holistic, the integrated method involves the development of the necessary infrastructure to support the mines and mining communities.
“We are working assiduously to ensure the development of a Central Corridor around the steel development complex, this includes the provision and upgrading of the railway network to link Abuja to the mineral centers and ports for easy evacuation of minerals resource and products.
“The present administration recognizes mining as a strategic income stream in the face of dwindling oil revenue and look towards increasing its contribution to the national GDP by three per cent in the year 2025.
“The Nigerian Government is determined to protect direct foreign investments. Our focus is now on de-risking the sector, by the provision of more up-to-date and comprehensive data on mineral occurrences in Nigeria and enabling a more investor-friendly environment through favorable incentives.”
The Minister also highlighted some achievements by the Ministry, which include the on-going National Exploration Project, NIMEP, which addresses dearth of investible geoscience data; upgrading and automation of the Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office, MCO, geared towards online processing of mining licenses spanning from 45 days to 15 days to get the licenses; gold discovery by Segilola Resources Operating Limited/Thor Explorations Limited, in the South-west Nigeria with a proven reserve of 1million ounces of gold on part of its tenements, which currently attracts attention of foreign investors.
Meanwhile, he (Adegbite) informed participants about the Downstream aspect of the nation’s mining sector, which had a serious boost following the Ministry’s issuance of two gold refinery licenses to Kian Smith Trading Ltd and Dukiya Gold Resources Limited, while the lead and Zinc processing plants of Tongyi Allied Mines Ltd and Royal Salt Ltd have continued steady operations in Ebonyi State.
In another presentation titled, ‘Derisking African Mining Project’, the President and CEO of African Finance Corporation, AFC, Samaila Zubairu, who was represented by the Director Natural Resources, AFC, Osam Iyahen, said the mining sector can potentially be the key driver for industrialization on the continent.
Iyahen stressed that de-risking projects the mining industry demands stimulating mechanisms which include credibility with African governments, a broad geographic footprint across the continent, funding, and ability to attract significant capital projects.
AFC is an African owned and funded entity that finances the Thor Exploration’s Segilola Gold Project in Osun State.