The Nigerian government has expressed its determination to play prominent role as a world mining player.

The nation’s assertion was conveyed by the Hon. Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc Olamilekan Adegbite when he appeared before the House Committee on Mines and House Committee on Steel to brief them on the activities of the Ministry.

Adegbite said the ministry has worked out modalities to improve on the efforts and legacies of successive Ministers in the sector. He acknowledged the initiatives and efforts of past ministers which he believed have come into fruition, most especially in the establishment of Agencies such as Mining Cadastre Office (MCO) and the Nigeria Geological Survey Agencies (NGSA).

He said part of the mandate of the Ministry is to diversify the economy and to begin to tap into the rich mineral resources of Nigeria so as to create employment, wealth and getting people out of poverty.

The Minister informed the committees that the agencies under the Ministry are undergoing reforms to ensure optimal performance. “We have started out by first identifying the potentials within the Ministry, so some of the activities being carried out is to first of all assess all the pro that the agencies as well as department of the Ministry are having and what needs to be done to ensure they perform optimally”, he added.

He pointed out that the activities of the MCO and NGSA are being computerized and being put online so that at the touch of a button, investors can access data and information on all minerals in the country from any part of the world. He promised that the activities of NGSA and MCO would soon be accessible online.

While fielding questions from the Hon. Members on the ministry’s plan concerning Artisanal Miners, Adegbite said the problem of mining in Nigeria is that about 90% or more of miners is in the realms of Artisanal Miners, that is the small scale Miners who have not gone through the right process to mine.

He informed them that the Ministry is currently adopting strategies to organize the artisanal miners into cooperatives to enable them benefit from various programmes of government, most especially in the area of training on safer mining practices, funding and to also ensure that they get good value for whatever they mine. He also added that the Federal Government has created a legitimate buying centre to enable miners sell at the prevalent market price so as to prevent exploitation of the small scale miners.

On the challenges facing the Ministry, the Minister appealed to the committee to assist in increasing funds allocation to the sector.

The Chairman House Committee on Mines, Hon. Michael Enyong in his remarks acknowledged the desires of the two Ministers to turn things around in the sector and promised that the committee would align themselves with their patriotic desires to ensure that the program and policies of government in solid minerals is achieved.

The Ministry was however encouraged to intensify efforts to combat various challenges confronting the sector such as insecurity, reclamation of mine land, capacity building, among others.

Meanwhile the Chairman House Committee on Steel, Hon. Abdullahi Halims said the Committee would leave no stone unturned in ensuring that the steel industry works. “We are aware that industrialization of Nigeria is solely dependent on the Steel industry, we will support the ministry by way of legislation and active interaction to ensure that the steel industry which is standing between the poverty and the riches of the country becomes a major player in the industry”, he further explained.

Idowu Jokpeyibo

For: Director Press