The Minister of State, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Bwari Abubakar, has said the ministry is committed to resuscitate the mining and steel sector for economic growth and development of the country.
Speaking at the weekend during the first Business Summit by Association of Metal Exporters of Nigeria (AMEN), in collaboration with Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), the minister, who was represented by the Senior Technical Assistant, Davids Olapade, said mining is Nigeria’s next frontier of opportunity aside crude oil, which the ministry is striving to transform.
According to him, “some of the efforts made so far to attract more investors are the upgrading and automation of the Nigerian Mining Cadastre office for online applications; development of new Mineral Export Guidelines to ensure accurate data on solid minerals, which reduces time spent in processing Mineral Export Permit from two weeks to two days.
“Others include the establishment of marketplace app where the ministry tracks illegal operators, mineral support centres, awarding of $50 million contract as part of the ministry’s integrated exploration programme to five exploration companies for the exploration of gold, lead or zinc, and working with CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria) in creating the gold economy, among others.”
He further said that the mining industry is now completely private sector-driven while government acts as the regulator. “Investors can own 100 per cent of their mining business and get five years tax holidays and can also bring in mining equipment on duty free, and as well be sure of free transferability of funds,” he added.
Meanwhile, the President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Babatunde Ruwase, has charged the ministry to “walk the talk”, saying that it is not enough to make statements which do not hold water.
“Statements are not enough. We need to see actions, create the conducive environment for local and foreign technocrats to harness the potentialities of mining and steel sector, and this advocacy must continue till we get the best from this sector.”
For his part, the Chairman, Solid Mineral and Mining Group, LCCI, Otunba Babatunde, said instead of designing policies that only create bottlenecks, it is better to create a Nigerian Mineral Exchange; a visual and physical platform where trading can take place, adding that banks can open a portal and see the local price of solid mineral resources as well as Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN).