FG targets minerals & metals sector for economic growth

—Renews 19 mining titles for Delta Steel Company

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

ABUJA – The Federal Government has restated its desire to transform the nation from a mono-product economy through the restructuring of the minerals and metal sector to make it the bedrock of the nation’s economy in the next few years.

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Musa Mohammed Sada, who dropped the hint during his meeting with the delegation of officials of African Iron and Steel Association in his office, in Abuja, stated that the solid minerals sector will play a major role in government’s Transformation Agenda for the revival of the national economy.

He said, “It is worth restating the determination of the Federal government to take advantage of the nation’s abundant mineral and metal resources for the growth and development of the economy. All hands are on deck to ensure an efficient transformation of the sector to effectively contribute to the economic growth of the country.”

Arc. Sada expressed the ministry’s readiness to work with other relevant bodies to develop well articulated plans to move the sector forward, stressing that the minerals and steel sector is a major and critical resource for the industrialization of the country.

The Minister who decried various challenges such as infrastructure, raw materials, legal problem among others militating against the survival of the nation’s steel industry expressed the government‘s preparedness to tackle such problems so as to move the sector forward.

Arc. Sada disclosed that for the National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe to be functional, the Federal Government has directed the resuscitation of one line of the company to produce Iron Ore, the basic raw material for the production of steel.

He also added that to solve the technical problems associated with the nation’s steel sector; the Ministry is already collaborating with relevant bodies such as the Ministries of Justice, Works, Transportation and Finance.

He said if well articulated plans are put in place, the Jonathan-led administration will not relent in her effort to revive the sector.

The Minister disclosed that he had directed the Mining Cadastre Office not to renew the nineteen (19) mining titles issued to the Delta Steel Company, adding that he had ordered that those mining titles should be converted to the National Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO) as its captive mines.

He said, “For sustainability, I want to assure you that we have not lost sight of the Nineteen (19) mining titles to (DSC), they came back to renew it but I stopped them. I ordered Mining Cadastre Office to convert those titles to NIOMCO as a company.”

The Minister pointed out that legal problem is the major factor facing the steel industry; expressing hope that the legal tussle would be solved.

He explained that the minerals and metal sector cannot be funded adequately with budgetary provisions, adding that with the collaboration of the Ministry of Finance, other areas of statutory funding will be explored for the sector.

Arc. Sada promised the unflinching support of the Federal Government towards the association in her bid to move the minerals and metal sector forward.

Earlier in his address, the leader of the delegation and the Executive Secretary of the African Iron and Steel Association, Alhaji Sanusi Mohammed said the essence of their visit was to brief the Minister about the association and their views on how to grow the nation’s steel sector.

Alhaji Sanusi commended the initiatives of the Minister at resuscitating the nation’s steel sector which had about eighteen (18) steel rolling mills as well as his determination to revisit the issues of privatized steel industries that are not functioning accordingly.

The leader of the delegation who decried the improper approach of privatization of the nation’s steel rolling mills said each of the moribund steel rolling mills was built at $120 million dollar with the production capacity of 210,000 tons of billet per annum while none of the steel rolling mills was sold for more than $10 million dollar.

Alhaji Sanusi who appraised numerous challenges facing the nation’s steel sector, advised the Minister to use his good office to correct those anomalies so as to move the sector forward.

He also expressed the association’s commitment to work with the government in achieving her task of developing the steel sector which is the bedrock of the nation’s industrialization.

Alhaji Sanusi also solicited for the support of the federal Government in the area of budgetary provisions for the association.

The African Iron and Steel Association (AISA) is an organization that was given birth to by the combined effort of the African Union (then OAU) and the United Nation’s Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to attack the dearth in steel development in Africa.

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