By Obineme Ndubuisi Micheal

Nigeria – Abuja has become the centre of Nigeria mining vision as the city hosts major industry events in Nigeria’s solid minerals sector. Nigeria Mining Week is among the major mining event held annually in Abuja. The event is a successful partnership between PwC, the Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN) and event organisers Spintelligent.

Nigeria’s Minister of Mines & Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, delivered a ministerial address during the opening session of the Nigeria Mining Week which took place in Abuja from 16-19 October. The high-level conference and expo provides the industry with access to the latest mining technologies and services while a new feature at the event, the Dragons’ Den, provided small scale miners and junior mining licence holders the opportunity to pitch their prospective investors.

Dr Kayode Fayemi commented: “The Ministry through the Federal Government has secured a $150million loan from the World Bank for the Mindiver Project aimed at funding strategic interventions in the sector. Plans are also underway to assemble a $600M investment fund for the sector, working with entities such as the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, the Nigerian Stock Exchange and others. All of these are far departures from the past, considering that in 2015, out of the meagre N1 billion allocated to the ministry, only N352 million was released”.

The minister said 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.

He adds: “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. We are previewing this portal at this conference ahead on its launch on November, 2017”.

The ministry has also embarked on a structured expansion of federal revenues across the entire mining value chain with an initial priority on improving reporting, blocking revenue leakages, and more efficient collection of taxes and royalties. To stem the illegal trading of minerals, the ministry has registered over thirty Mineral Buying Centers, and enacted the Revenue and Reporting Compliance Agreement with the Nigeria Customs Service, which has improved the policing of mineral exports.

He further explained that the industry has recorded another major achievement by signing the ‘Modified Concession Agreement’ between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Global Infrastructure Nigeria Limited, effectively resolving the protracted litigations surrounding the ownership of Ajaokuta and Niomco. The agreement was executed on behalf of the FGN, by His Excellency the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN. With this development, both NIOMCO and Ajaokuta Steel Company have been freed from eight years of dormancy that was occasioned by the protracted arbitration between the Federal Government and GINL.

He adds: “The implication of the signing is that ownership of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited has now reverted to the FGN, and we can now proceed to engage a new core investor with the financial and technical capacity to run the steel complex. The operationalisation of ASC will provide the needed inputs to support the infrastructure requirements of the country and lead to import substitution, and save the country about 3.3 billion dollars annually spent on the importation of steel products. The Nigerian Steel Dream, conceived in the 1970s, but which has been elusive is once again on the way to becoming a reality.”

According to the minister, the mining sector has begun to record very impressive results as it have achieved a 300% increase in revenue (royalties and fees) between 2015 and 2016, and as at July of this year, the sector had already surpassed the entire revenue of N2Billion generated for the whole of 2016.

He said the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics recently reported GDP figures for the second quarter of 2017, indicating that the economy grew by 0.55%. It is instructive to note that the NBS attributes the economic recovery to the performance of not only the Oil and Gas sector but other main economic activities such as – mining, agriculture, manufacturing and trade, albeit marginally.

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