By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
Senate on Tuesday passed second reading, the Bill seeking to establish Solid Mineral Development Corporation in Nigeria, as a catalyst for investments and growth of the mining sector of the economy.
The Bill is sponsored by Senator Tanko Al- Makura (APC Nasarawa South).
Al – Makura in his lead debate on the bill titled: ‘A bill for an Act to establish the Nigerian Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC), to invest and catalyze investments in the mining sector, to promote and support mining sector growth and for all related matters”, said the agency is very necessary to serve as required catalyst for investments and growth of the mining sector.
According to him, the NMDC is proposed to be a state-owned Enterprise (SOE) with private sector participation and governance control, as the vehicle for unbundling upstream and downstream commercial activity in the Nigerian solid Mineral sector.
He said “Since Nigeria is blessed with an abundance of solid minerals in five distinct classes; precious mineral/ gemstones (ruby, emerald etc), metallic ores (lead, zinc, copper etc), construction minerals (laterite, granite, gravel, sand etc) and energy minerals (bitumen, coal and uranium among others), there is need for agency to coordinate the tapping of the resources.
“All these resource remains largely untapped and unexplored. However, NMDC seeks to develop upstream exploration and production, midstream mineral processing and metallurgy and downstream logistics, trade and export which will catalyze investment in the entire mining value chain in Nigeria.
“It is expected that the establishment of the NMDC will urgently address the challenges of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) currently facing state Government in Nigeria, as it would provide the much needed revenue to deliver on the administration’s priority areas of infrastructure development; social inclusion and poverty reduction, industrialization and job creation for the citizens of Nigeria.
“Upon establishment of the corporation, initial funding shall be by way of a sovereign guarantee covering the sum of N5,000,000,000.00 (Five billion Naira only) for a successful take off of the operation including all initial capital and operating expenditure.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria would pay up its 70% equity contribution and the institutional investor shall pay their respective equity participation to the corporation.
“Subsequent funding of the NMDC would be through the Nigerian Mineral Development Fund (NMDF) which will be managed by the corporation strictly in accordance with international best practices”.
He added that the activities and scope of the corporation would broadly cover areas of exploration of Solid Minerals located within Nigeria with a view to develop mining assets to Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) Stage, and bid such blocks to local and international investors through a transparent bidding process.
Other areas include Investment in mineral processing and metallurgical technology for identified and commercially viable minerals and metals in Nigeria for import substitution and export as a direct source of revenue to the Government.
“The need to establish The Nigerian Mining Development Corporation cannot be over emphasized as this will accelerate infrastructural development and will also bridge the gap of unemployment and foreign exchange earnings. Thereby bringing the nation to financial prosperity short to medium term”, he stressed.
Virtually all the Senators who contributed to debate on the bill , supported its passage for second reading which they did when put to voice votes.
The Senate Committee on Solid Minerals , was accordingly assigned to make further legislative inputs into the bill and report back within four weeks.