28 January 2018, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Federal government has said it is finalising plans to spend over N20 billion on mineral exploration for select mineral deposits in the country.
The minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who disclosed this in Abuja at the presentation of the Mineral Sector Support for Economic Diversification Project, MinDiver, in partnership with the World Bank, said the expenditure would lead to further information being generated and provided in the area of exploration.
Mr. Fayemi also said that the ministry had finally retrieved the geographical aerial survey, commissioned years ago, which was not paid for by the government. He said it had now been paid for and the data had been retrieved for the use of mining investors.
While discussing the MinDiver project, the minister commended the World Bank for using the roadmap as a guide for formulating the project as it usually is not the case in most scenarios with external support.
He said, “Very often, what we are told is that donor support is largely driven by what the donor wants, not necessarily what the recipient is in desperate need of, but I can assure you that working with the world bank team on this project has shown that this is not always the case.”
He added that, “The World Bank listened to us and planned what eventually became this project largely from the roadmap and of course they guided and shared their extensive experience with us in other countries.
“Everything that is contained in the programme document for this sector initiative is largely driven by us and we cannot therefore hold the World Bank responsible for the success or the failure of this project. We must hold ourselves responsible for the outcome.”
Fayemi explained that the purpose of the project is to build a world class minerals’ and mining ecosystem designed to serve a targeted domestic as well as export market for mineral ores.
According to him, “We plan to achieve this by focusing on Nigeria’s minerals, mining and related processing industry over a three-phased period. The first phase is to rebuild market confidence in our minerals and mining sector and win back all our domestic users of industrial minerals that are currently imported.
“During this phase, Nigeria will also seek to expand the use of our energy minerals like coal and this phase will take the next two to three years.
“The second phase focuses on expanding our domestic ore and mineral access processing industry. For too long, what we have in terms of endowment is often taken out raw and our conclusion is that they would be more beneficial both to our private sector operators and to us in the government for our mineral ores to be processed locally with value added before being taken out, if they must be taken out at all.
“In some cases the market here is large enough to absorb what we produce but in some cases we may need to encourage export of this endowment.”
He added that, “The third phase for the roadmap seeks to return Nigeria to the global ore and mineral market at a market competitive price and we expect that this would also coincide with a commodity upshot because the mineral resource industry is also an industry slightly like the oil industry. It is the same extractive sector and prices go up and down.
“While we are waiting for full recovery of that market, we believe that we can use the period to prepare for our global communication. This is in line with our broader national strategy as pertained the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP.”
Mr. Fayemi acknowledged the World Bank support as timely and appropriate.
The minister also mentioned a meeting he had with his counterpart in Niger Republic on Monday as one of the efforts to grow the sector through partnerships within the African continent.
He said they agreed and finalised plans on the exploration of minerals binding both Nigeria and Niger Republic, particularly Uranium, limestone and zinc.