Oscarline Onwuemenyi 19 April 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Federal Government is considering massive injection of funds and creation of good market environment to boost mining activities in the country, according to Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
Fayemi, who maintained that besides cement, there were serious mining activities for other minerals across the country, noted for instance, that Benue, Nasarawa and Cross Rivers states had large quantities of barytes to satisfy the needs of the oil and gas companies.
The minister stated this as he announced government’s plan to give tax holidays to miners in the country during a meeting with members of the Association of Miners Processors of Baryte, AMAPOB, in Benue State, which was also attended by the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Hon. Abubakar Bwari.
The Federal Government also plans to concentrate efforts on full exploration of seven minerals, which it considered strategic, Fayemi further disclosed, adding that these minerals have the potential to improve earnings from the mining sector and create millions of jobs for Nigerians.
The minister, who listed the strategic minerals government is focusing on as limestone, barytes, iron, bitumen, lead and zinc, said: “As a country, we have the best tax holidays worldwide, all miners have three years tax holidays from the government.
“Again, out of the 40 minerals in the country, we have selected seven strategic ones for concentration. The minerals are limestone, barytes, iron, bitumen lead and zinc.”
Besides the tax holiday offered as incentive for miners, the minister said the government also operates a duty-free policy on all mining equipment.
He also said that the government was likely to commence substitution or ban importation of barytes for oil companies to patronise barytes produced locally as part of measures to spur the growth of the mining sector.
The Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, NIPC, reports that the mining sector offers a viable alternative to petroleum, the nation’s major revenue source, for foreign exchange earnings.
Globally, the mining industry has been a close rival to the petroleum industry, while Nigeria earns a paltry $89 million per annum from it.
The commission estimates the commercial value of Nigeria’s solid minerals as running into hundreds of trillions of dollars with the solid minerals spread across the 36 states of the nation and The Federal Capital, FCT, Abuja..
As at 2014, the contribution of solid mineral sector to the Nigerian economy was one per cent. But, It has the potential to increase to at least five per cent by this year and ten per cent by the year 2020.
It is also capable of creating three million jobs – direct and indirect – by the 2017, the commission also reports.
The nation currently operates a National Policy on Solid Minerals aimed at ensuring an orderly development of the mineral resources of the country.