22 December 2015, Abuja – The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has said the main focus of his ministry is to reposition mining activities in the country and ensure that the sector contributes immense growth to the economy within a decade.
Fayemi, who stated these yesterday during his inaugural press briefing on the activities of the ministry, said opportunities abound in the solid minerals sector to actualise President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision of using the sector to diversify the economy and create jobs.
He also declared that the federal government was determined to make the Ajaokuta Steel complex work in spite of the huge fund required to ensure the industry is up and running.
According to him, aside this, any current holder of mining licence who failed to use it would forfeit such from March next year when the ministry would start enforcing the ‘use it or lose it’ doctrine as enshrined in the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act.
Fayemi, together with the Minister of State for Solid Minerals, Hon Abubakar Bwari, addressed journalists at the ministry’s conference room as well as unveiled the roadmap for the ministry.
While unveiling the roadmap which the ministry intends to achieve in the short, medium and the long term, the minister pointed out that the country’s solid minerals sector currently makes up about 0.34 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), which translates to about N400 billion in value to the economy.
The former Governor of Ekiti State, said: “While this is a significant role, it is smaller than the true potentials of the sector. In fact, what has been happening is that the sector has been operating sharply below capacity, with many mining operations manned by small scale miners as opposed to large scale players.”
Fayemi, however, said when properly structured, the sector has the capacity to provide no fewer than a million direct jobs and contribute as much as the oil and gas sector into the national economy.
Although the minister noted the global decline in prices of mining products, he said the good news is that Nigeria has a great deal of domestic demand for industrial minerals and metal.
“So we will focus on working with other Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) to ensure the demand is met by Nigerians miners and processors,” he added.
In order to achieve its set goals, Fayemi said certain steps would be taken in the short term, adding that the ministry would undertake an external audit of revenue receipts in the solid minerals sector for the past years.
He said the ministry would focus on jobs creation, block all leakages to shore up its revenue generation; build an industry that would support the country’s industrialisation and become sustainable, transparent and environmental friendly.
“We also want to build an industry that integrates states, communities and existing miners into mining ecosystem.
“If we deliver on this vision, then we can build a mining sector that Nigerians can be proud of in 30 years or more from now. This sector should deliver double digit growth over the next decade with important direct and indirect economic impacts on households.
“To improve our likelihood of building such an outcome, the ministry also sought to extensively understand the entire operations in the sector. Therefore, we continue to review lessons from some of the best mining industries to see what lessons we can draw from their experiences, and balancing some of the objectives outlined above,” he stated.
In achieving its set goals, Fayemi said the ministry would enter into strategic partnership with the banks to develop interest in the sector and assist investors as well as the National Assembly for legislation and other ministries, National Security Adviser (NSA) and the Nigerian Custom Service (NCS) among others.
He said Ghana, once known as Gold Coast, and a leading producer of gold, will not only be bested by Nigeria in the production of the commodity, but that the African most populous country will do so three times over once she fully begins the exploitation and control of the precious metal along with other solid minerals.
He also said though he had heard that there was an international conspiracy to thwart the effective operationalisation of Ajaokuta Steel Company, no amount of conspiracy could stop a determined nation and as such, this administration would work towards putting it back into operation.
“We are the architects of our own fortunes,” Fayemi remarked. “No international conspiracy can stop a determined nation. We need to fix Ajaokuta Steel Plant, and we will fix it.”
He stated that after a tour of the plant’s complex which is a city of its own, he could not understand why the government had not fixed it, although he acknowledged that the amount required to do it was so humongous that the government would need to partner private investors to achieve the target.
- This Day