“We must acknowledge the big strides achieved by the current leadership of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development”
1) How excited are you about this year’s Nigeria Mining Week? What is new for 2017?
This year has presented with it new challenges in the Nigeria mining space as well as opportunities for growth in the sector. However, what I’m always looking forward to in the conference is the gathering of all stakeholders in the Nigeria mining industry coming under one roof to deliberate on the issues affecting the sector. This presents a good platform to drive policy in the correct direction. Building up to the event for 2017, we desire to have a fruitful discourse across board.
2) What have been the main challenges for the mining sector in the last year?
The sector has seen very many small scale businesses both in the upstream mining operations and downstream export end of the value chain close down business as a result of the extremely harsh operating environment. Operators of tenements just cannot find the resources and infrastructural support they need to run their mines. The debilitating effect of a sector without intelligent data is obvious in the way industry participants slip into a high redundancy. This unpleasant trend needs be addressed with every means possible. As it were, the rhetoric from government about illegal mining needs be addressed via the strengthening of the various state mines offices with necessary tools to curb the menace.
3) What have been the main accomplishments for the sector in your view in the last 12 months or so?
We must acknowledge the big strides achieved by the current leadership of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development. They have been able to create a clear blueprint/vision for the sector through the mining roadmap. We have seen great improvements in the way the regulator engages with the operators and this has boosted confidence in the viability of the sector growth. It must be acknowledged also that the sector has recorded a double digit growth indices and contributed significantly to the GDP alongside Agriculture. These are indicators of good progress; however we desire to see a more rapid development along the whole mining value chain. This would only be achieved in partnership with investors and the dominant sector participants.
A piece of good news is the announcement of a N2.5billion support for the small scale mining companies, the N30billion approved for the ministry as well as the $150million world bank intervention fund for the sector.
The attention paid to the steel sector is also commendable but the steel sector needs to be made free of the legal entanglements it is bungled with presently.
The ministry of mines and steel development has successfully reinvented itself in the area of information dissemination via e-channels in contrast to the previous singular method (print media). This has helped incident reporting.
It is our desire to see results emanate from the inaugurated solid minerals development fund board as regards the management and operationalisation of the DFI funding provisions for the sector.
In order to achieve the 2025 target set for the mining sector’s contribution to GDP; the efforts by the federal government requires a complementary disposition from the state governments, otherwise the rapid development required to jolt the industry forward will remain elusive.
4) What is your vision for this sector?
A sector open to all; where entrepreneurs can venture into having performed their due diligence studies of projects and secure the financial support as well as relevant regulatory agencies permits/licences to operate profitably and responsibly.
5) How important is the Nigeria Mining Week as a meeting place for the sector?
It is actually beyond a meeting place. I would call the forum a mining business hub where virtually all the mining related issues come under one roof for open multilateral discourse with the aim of finding the best-fit path for a healthy growth of the sector. The organisers need to do more to bring problematic state governments to the spotlight for engagement on vital issues of enabling investment environment for legitimate mining companies.
6) What will be SBOG’s message at the event this year?
The government at all levels should be very sensitive to and show empathy to the plights of legitimate mining companies operating within the Nigerian space. Because raising capital for mining investment is not cheap, therefore no investor with the requisite licences should be made to wait 1day more than is required for permits, licence upgrades, etc.