Nigerian hinges growth of minerals sector on reliable data

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

18 November 2011, Sweetcrude, ABUJA – The Nigerian government has stated that the availability of bankable geosciences information and data would facilitate discovery, exploitation, value addition as well as the sustainable development of the nation’s minerals and metal sector.

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc.Musa Mohammed Sada stated this during the 3rd Stakeholders’ Forum organized by Nigerian Geological Survey Agency, NGSA, in Abuja.

The Minister said for the sustainable development of the nation’s minerals and metal sector, the federal government was ensuring that geosciences data and information are properly acquired, stored and disseminated in order to attract financiers and foreign investors for the development of the sector.

He said “In mining sector, the value of data is unquantifiable. The quantity and quality of data matter; this is why we attached great importance to the accumulation of data”

He noted lack of adequate funding as one of the major challenges facing the sector, stressing that, availability of adequate bankable geosciences information and data would go a long way in attracting commercial banks and foreign investors to grow the nation’s minerals and metal sector.

Arc.Sada explained that various stakeholders’ fora embarked upon by the Ministry and its parastatals are opportunities for opening up discussion, debating and scrutinizing different aspects of developmental programmes to stakeholders in the sector as well as the general public.

He added that such fora would give room to showcase the work of different Departments and Agencies of the ministry to users of their products and services thereby encouraging transparency and improve service delivery in line with the transformation agenda of the present administration.

The Minister said the stakeholders’ forum on the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency was part of the strategic efforts of the ministry to promote and expand the investment frontiers through the dissemination of bankable geosciences information and data.

He added that the forum would provide an opportunity for stakeholders in the nation’s minerals and metal sector to interact and brainstorm with a view to defining future requirements and improving service delivery for the accelerated developmental programme of the sector.

The Minister who noted that “Mining sector is a global sector; we must go with global best practices”, said the nation’s minerals and metal sector has two operational principles of first come ,first serve and use it or lose it in line with international best practices.

While fielding questions from newsmen, the Minister disclosed that the Mining Cadastre Office of the Ministry which is for the administration of mining titles is not the major revenue generating office of the sector, explaining that, revenue from the nation’s minerals and metal sector comes from royalties and taxes from the exploitation of solid mineral resources.

Arc. Sada noted that mining operations are being handled by private investors globally while the government plays the role of a regulator.

He said that the present administration was working towards positioning the nation’s minerals and metal sector as the one responsible for bringing in mining companies that would partner with government to build the infrastructural facilities such as roads, rail lines and sea ports which would facilitate their easy access to and from the mines sites as obtained in other mining countries such as Australia and Canada, among others

He reaffirmed the current administration’s commitment to create an enabling atmosphere to attract major investors into the sector as this would go a long way at providing infrastructure, employment opportunities and generate revenue for the sector in line with global best practices.

According to the Minister, “We need to generate the right atmosphere for major investors in the sector to come in and do what is globally being done to provide infrastructure, employment opportunities and generate revenue for the government”.

Arc Sada explained that the outbreak of lead poisoning in Zamfara state as a result of poor handling of mining operations by illegal miners was caused by the level of poverty, adding that, the Ministry through its Artisanal and Small Scale Mining Department has taken proactive measures to organize extension services on the proper handling of mining operations.

He said “The whole idea we are trying to drive is to make sure areas of mining activity in the country are taken over by major mining companies who would be ready to employ those illegal hands for proper mining operations.”

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