By Gabriel Ewepu
Nigeria’s solid minerals export dropped by 80.1 per cent or N12.76 billion to N3.16 billion in the first half of 2020 compared to N15.88 billion recorded in the same period in 2019.
Data obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, indicates that exports in the solid minerals sector in Q1 2020, was N1.60 billion, while Q2 export was N1.56 billion.
Meanwhile, Q1 2019 export was N8.29 billion, while Q2 was N7.59 billion. According to the NBS report on external trade by sectors, solid minerals sector had export component of N1.6 billion. The major products exported under this sector were cement clinkers, exported to Senegal, valued at N 0.44billion. This was followed by manganese ores and concentrates exported to China, worth N0.42billion and lead ores and concentrate exported also to China, and worth N0.39billion.
In addition, N388.69 million of lead ores and concentrates export to China, and zinc ores and concentrates to China was N233.75 million and South Africa N0.32 million respectively. Silica sands and quartz sands to China was N45.96 million.
The sector exported to African countries in April was valued at N6.8 million, in May it was N5.8 million, while in June it fell to N444.8 million. Export to Asia in April was N368.6 million, in May N247.7 million, and in June N494.4 million. The total export was N1.56 billion.
The value of total trade fell sharply by 27.30% in Q2, 2020 compared to Q1, 2020 and 27.46% compared to Q2, 2019.
Total exports was 45.64% lower in Q2,2020 than Q1,2020 and 51.73% lower than Q2, 2019.
Solid minerals exports registered a decrease of 2.3% in Q2,2020 compared to Q1,2020 and 79.4% compared to Q2,2019
Other oil products decreased by 40.7% in Q2, 2020 compared to Q1, 2020 and 28% compared to Q2, 2019.
Speaking with Vanguard Energy, the President of Miners Association of Nigeria, MAN, Kabir Kankara, highlighted some factors responsible for the drop in solid minerals export as indicated by the NBS report for the sector in first and second quarters of 2020 comparing with 2019 under same periods.
He said the solid minerals sector had obvious challenges in 2020 in its export, which was basically caused by the coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic that struck global trade and stalled mining activities, which also by extension affected the Nigerian mining sector.
Kankara who advised the Federal Government to proactively pump in stimulus into the sector and galvanise the huge potential the sector enable it to bounce back in global trade of non-oil commodities. He added that operators in the sector need to receive some financial support from the government, which also hep the sector get revived and vibrant again since it is one of the cardinal sectors to diversify the sector from oil to non-oil based.
While noting that government should review some policies that would aid foreign investors participation in the sector, since the country has problem of utilising its own solid minerals resources, he said: “There are many factors that must have led to the drop of solid minerals export in Nigeria, and one is the COVID-19 pandemic that contributed immensely because the whole world was shut down; economic activities shutdown and activities paralysed, financial transactions and movement across the world went comatose, which all contributed to the drop because it affected all the value chains of financial transaction in of export trade.”
The miners’ boss in his recommendation on what government should do to salvage the sector spoke on policies and programmes of government that should commence immediately in order to reposition the sector and place it on high acceleration that would further boost activities in the sector after over six months of closure of the mines.
“The most important thing in any business is capital and regulatory framework that are friendly for operators and investor and that is to for government to pump in more money.
“Miners have their demands, and now the government is aware of what miners demand which including equipment and other logistics, geological activities, working capital. The government also knows that the mining business, and make policies attractive to the sector, and others”, he said.
Speaking on the N6 billion that is still lying at the Bank of Industry, BoI, he (Kankara), said he does not want to talk about it, because much have been debated on it, but disclosed that the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc Olamilekan Adegbite, promised to take up the issue.
He also stated that the sector needs far higher than N6 billion, rather over N100 billion is demanded in the sector for the government to really see the impact of the sector as far as the diversification agenda is concerned.
On the expected arrival of Russian technical team for technical audit of Ajaokuta Steel Company, ASCL, and National Iron Ore Mining Company, NIOMCO, Itakpe, he explained that it is a government-to-government initiative and that now most countries are reopening their airspace, including Nigeria and Russia that pledge from the Buhari-led administration be fulfilled in order to place the economy on the fast-lane of industrialisation and development.
“Government should fulfil its pledge to allow the Russians to come genuinely with good intention to come and resuscitate the steel industry.
“From on our side, whichever way we can supply local and raw materials for steel production on our own price provided logistics and financial support are given to us, and then I have confidence that the steel industry which is one of the key actors in developmental stride of industrialisation of many countries we cannot do without the steel industry.
“By the time it becomes alive and functional it will go a long way in making it safe haven for the economy to climb up both in infrastructure and job creation”, he stated.
He also disclosed that there are plans including partnership with government, collaborate with relevant stakeholders, build capacity of medium, small and artisanal miners, maximise profit, collaborate with financial institutions, safer mining, and others.
Meanwhile, it also behoves on State Governments to synergise and collaborate with the Federal Government to explore, exploit and harness its huge solid minerals resources on joint venture basis since they are not empowered by the Constitution to extract any natural and solid minerals resources.
This will further bring about rapid development of the sector from all fronts with beneficiation as the driving force to add value to these resources.
Then all hands must be on deck to tackle all forms of criminality in the sector by local, state, and federal governments including host communities and other stakeholders.