‘Mining, Another Panacea To Nigeria’s Economic Growth’


As the new government prepares to restructure the nation’s economy, Nigerian miners have said that repositioning the nation’s mining sector is the answer to rejuvenate the mining industry and the nation’s economy with the collapse of oil, Ruth Tene Natsa writes.  

The mineral and mining sector has been voted as a viable substitute to oil, and a relevant platform for job creation, poverty alleviation and wealth creation .

Speaking with journalists in Abuja, yesterday, miners reiterated their commitment to work with the new government towards rebuilding the economy while committing to re-awaken the moribund sector.

The president of the Nigerian Miners Association, Alhaji Sani Shehu, said that as efforts to restructure the sector, the association, through a five-year strategic development plan, hopes to create 3,000 jobs annually or bi-annually as well as increase the contribution of the sector’s GDP to 10 per cent as against the less than 1 per cent presently.

Shehu, who recalled that the mining sector in the past contributed significantly to the growth of the economy as a major producer of tin, columbite and coal ,was optimistic that the sector could be returned to its glory days.

“The mining industry in the past contributed significantly to the growth of the Nigerian economy. Nigeria was indeed a major producer of tin, columbite and coal and the industry provided massive employment and infracstructural development before it suffered a major setback for decades which created the platfform for small scale operators and artisanal miners to take over the sector.

“It is not appropriate to leave a sector with such potential to be dominated by artisanal and small scale miners as the sector still remains a virgin and needs to be properly developed to actualise its benefits to the nation. The association recognises measures taken by the government in the recent past to reform mining by creating institutions which had provided a platform for the industry to take off successfully. However, the sector is still severely challenged.

“The mining sector is challenged by unfavourable conditions with regard to access to funding, inadequate geological and bankable data, inadequate skilled labour, inadequate logistical support, artisanal and informal mining as well as inadequate funding to the ministry,” Shehu said.

Other challenges according to him include the interference of mining operations by lower tiers of government as witnessed in Ogun, Oyo, Benue, Cross River states, among others.

“This was because states and local government authorities seemed not to understand their limitations as the mining sector remained on the exclusive lists of the federal government,” he explained.

The miners’ president also lamented the multiple taxation imposed on miners both at the federal and state levels.In proferring solutions to the lingering challenges that have continued to dog the sector, he said, “There was need for the new government to empower the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency to embark on continuous data generation and properly fund the Solid Minerals Development Fund (SDMF) towards creating a standby fund for mining explorations which need long term funding which commercial banks have failed to buy into. An urgent need to adequately fund the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development to help strengthen its relevant departments towards performing their statutory roles as well as create favourable conditions for mining operators to access loans at single digits interest rates as against the 26 per cent requested by commercial banks should be met.”

Other solutions proposed by the miners include the extension of the local content law into the mining sector, facilitation of human capacity development programmes, promotion of local manufacturing of mining and processing equipment and formation of cooperative mining clusters across the nation.

Shehu maintained that as major stakeholders in the nation’s mining industry, “the the miners association has, as a matter of responsibility, resolved to work with the present government to actualise her aspirations of generating additional revenue for the nation and creating massive job opportunities for its teeming population.”

Source : Leadership

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