The Nigerian government is committed to the rapid development of the country’s mining sector in the post COVID-19 pandemic environment.
This is the message from Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite, Minister of Mines and Steel Development who was addressing the opening session of Nigeria Mining Week digital event, taking place until Friday.
The first session titled “Mining as a driver of economic recovery: Collaboration for a dynamic industry” featured speakers from the Power and Environment ministries, the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy, the Solid Mineral Development Fund (SMDF), Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN) and PWC Nigeria.
Setting the tone for the event, the opening discussion provided an overview of the Nigerian mining industry and an understanding of how key stakeholders can collaborate in to unlock mining exploration, production, processing and export activities which will contribute to the nation’s economy as a whole.
Opportunity amid the pandemic
In his opening statement, Adegbite stated that the Nigerian government views the current economic challenges brought about by COVID-19 as an opportunity to assess its strategy and to build a more resilient and diversified economy.
“In this regard, we have embarked on policies and projects to cushion the economic shock of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have also intensified our efforts to generate reliable geodata and provide an investor-friendly ecosystem for the rapid development of the sector,” he added.
Adegbite explained that his ministry’s starting point is the enhancement of domestic knowledge, skills and technology to improve mining governance.
In addition, the ministry is also conducting stakeholder consultation to educate communities, state and local governments as well as civil society groups on their role in fostering the development of the mining industry for shared prosperity.
While Nigeria’s economy has been primarily based on its vast oil and gas reserves, Adegbite cited the example of Thor Explorations’ Segilola gold mine, which is now in its advanced stages, as to how mining can benefit the economy.
Segilola has the capacity to produce 80 000 ozpa and already three companies have been granted licences to refine the gold.
“Also, the Mining Cadastre office has been upgraded to an online system and six zonal offices have been created. This will ease doing business in Nigeria,” he explained.
Weighing in on the conversation, Hajia Fatima Shinkafi, executive secretary of SMDF called for more transformation in the sector.
“We are at the riskiest stages of the mining cycle, which is exploration and data generation, and that part of the cycle is difficult to fund as banks and financial institutions are risk averse.
“So, venture capital and intervention funds from government have dominated but the collaborations are nowhere near what we want them to be. We are working towards improving that, especially with more private sector participation.”
In conclusion, Adegbite reaffirmed the country’s commitment to grow its mining sector and that the success of the Nigeria Mining Week is a unique platform for achieving this success.
“I commend the organisers of this event for their vision and relentless effort, despite the challenges we face now. I look forward to meeting with investors over the course of this event,” he concluded.