By Musa Adamu
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, has attributed the recent growth in the mining sector and the improvement in the investment risk profile of the country’s mining jurisdiction to the success of the reforms being put in place by the Federal Government.
Specifically, the Minister cited efforts of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, which he said was helping to remove bureaucratic and regulatory constrains to doing business in the country.
Dr Fayemi stated this at the opening session of the second edition of the Nigeria Mining Week in Abuja on Tuesday, just as Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babtunde Fashola (SAN), Taraba state Governor Darius Ishaku, Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai and President of the Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN), lauded recent growth in the mining sector.
The Minister, who cited an independent report in the recently released Mining Journal’s World Risk report, an annual comprehensive analysis ranking of investment risk of each mining jurisdiction, said it was gratifying to note that Nigeria had made remarkable improvements in both hard risk and perceived risk factors.
He said: “The Nigerian Mining jurisdiction is now considered to have a better investment risk profile than Russia, China, India and several other leading jurisdictions. Nigeria is now “perceived” to have a better investment risk profile than New York!
“Our efforts in the sector are being well complemented by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) with a mandate to remove bureaucratic and regulatory constraints to doing business in Nigeria. The council is chaired by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.”
Fayemi said the main focus of the current leadership in the sector was to build a world class minerals and mining ecosystem designed to serve a targeted domestic and export market for minerals and ores.
“We seek to rebuild market confidence in our minerals and mining sector and win over domestic users of industrial minerals in order to achieve import substitution. We are therefore pleased to see improvements in perceptions about the Nigerian Mining Jurisdiction. It has been our objective to turn the tide of popular but inaccurate narratives about Nigeria, by emphasising the strong points about the Nigerian mining sector that are seldom taken into account by the international community.”
The Minister explained that the ministry had been able to effect a major improvement in the area of access to finance by systematically de-risking the mining sector and attracting investment and development funding.
“We have operationalised the Nigerian Solid Minerals Development Fund to provide financing to projects in the sector. In collaboration with the Bank of Industry (BOI), the SMDF has launched a N5Billion fund to provide single digit interest loans to mining projects in Nigeria. Also, we have secured approval to access N30 Billion from the Natural Resources Intervention Fund for the promotion of the exploration of new minerals and to strengthen the regulatory capacity of the Ministry.
“There is also significant improvement in the Mining Cadastre office’s administration of mineral titles. The MCO has now met the target of consistently issuing licenses to applicants within 30-45 days as stipulated in the Nigerian Mining and Minerals Act, 2007, provided the applicant has fulfilled all statutory requirements.
“Furthermore, we have created a portal to serve as a one-stop-shop online interface that incorporates all Cadastre functions and integrates the ministry and all her agencies. What this means in effect is that, anyone from any part of the world can access our cadastre properties online, apply for licenses, make statutory payments, track progress on requests and applications, e.t.c”
In his speech, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, said mining and agriculture had been the two major areas President Mohammadu Buhari was very much concerned about right from the electioneering period.
He said he was not surprised about the administration’s commitment to the mining sector and the attendant growth it has recorded.
The Minister who lauded the President’s decision to pull the country out of recession by spending on infrastructure, said the major bulk of the spending on infrastructure would go to boost the mining sector and enrich miners as majority of the materials for road construction, housing, transportation and power are sourced from the mining sector.
He said: “The N100 billion sukuk to build roads is actually going into the owners of quarry and those in the business of granite, laterite, gravel, sand, cement, iron rods, asphalt etc. So, better days are here for miners”.
Fashola explained that the country entered recession because the previous administration did not spend much on infrastructure, saying President Buhari had changed that.
Governor Ishaku on his part, urged the Federal Government to ban the importation of Barite as done during the military era so that the country can increase earnings from the mineral which is used in oil exploration.
He said the two major companies involved in barite production during the period of the ban recorded massive patronage, but that went down immediately the ban was lifted.
The President of Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN), Shehu Sani, lauded the current crack down on illegal miners, stressing that this had encouraged more miners to invest in the sector.
He called for the sustenance of the crack down.
He also advised government to gear up for the impending boom in lead and lithium, following plans by some western countries to embrace renewable energy.
He said: “We have an advantage because renewable energy is about lead and lithium and other metals which we have in abundance. Federal Government should put in place a strategy for the coming boom.”
The mining week, which was organised by the Miners Association of Nigeria in partnership with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) and Spintellegent, was attended by investors and exhibitors from Canada, Australia, South Africa, DRC, Ghana and China, among others.