By Francisca Oluyole
Abuja, Oct. 7, 2020 Stakeholders in the Mines and Steel Sector have attributed low contribution of the sector to the country’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) to nonchalant attitude of past governments.
The stakeholders made this known in separate interviews with journalists on Wednesday in Abuja.
They said in the 1970s, Nigeria was recognised as a global mining destination with significant production such as coal, tin, gold, salt, iron ore, among others, which boosted the country’s GDP then.
Alhaji Kabir Kankara, the President, Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN) said that Nigeria has abundant minerals in all the 774 local government yet untapped.
He said that the sector was the bedrock of the nation’s economy in the 60s and 70s but negligence and over dependence on oil “killed the glory of the sector’’.
According to him, the current administration is trying its best to revive the sector but not much has been felt for now.
“The current government is hoping on the sector to boost the economy, especially now that the country is going through COVID-19 challenge,” he said.
Kankara called on the government to reawaken the sector by investing more funds in it to boost mining activities and put in place adequate regulatory framework to reposition the sector to meet international mining standard.
Alhaji Sani Shehu, the former Chairman of MAN said that Nigeria made lots of money through the sector when foreign investors were mining in Nigeria in the 60s and 70s.
Shehu said that the past glory of the sector could still be revived if government intensified efforts in providing bankable data of minerals available in the Nigeria, adding that foreigners would be glad to invest in the sector.
He called for the development of industrial minerals such Kaoline, clay, barytes, tantalite among others to reduce importation.
“The industrial minerals are used for physical and infrastructural development. They are used for building and road construction,” he said.
Shehu called for adequate policy to support miners, especially the industrial mineral miners.
He also advised government to add value and beneficiation on every mineral mined in Nigeria rather than exporting them raw.
Mr Dele Ayanleke, the National Secretary of MAN called on the government and financial institutions to support small scale miners as mining requires huge capital.
Ayanleke said that lack of bankable data of minerals available in the country was among the reasons foreign investors refused to invest in the sector.
Prof. Benjamin Adewuyi, the former President, Nigeria Metallurgical Society said that Nigeria was still lagging behind in mining and metallurgical aspect due to maladministration and corruption.
Adewuyi appreciated the Federal Government on the commissioning of Itakpe-Ajaoku-Warri rail lines, adding that one of the infrastructural problems that could have hindered the commencement of Ajaokuta Steel if completed had been settled.
“It gladdens our heart to know that one of the infrastructures that could delay the take-off of Ajaokuta steel has been solved.
“Incidentally, many Nigerians did not really place importance on the rail line but we in the industry are happy because raw materials shipped through the sea will be delivered to the company through the rail line,” he said.
He advised the government to ensure no lip service was paid on reviving Ajaokuta steel as it could provide thousands of jobs to boost the economy.
NAN recalls that the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite said recently that Nigeria would not repeat oil and gas mistakes in mining.
Adegbite said that Nigeria could not afford to repeat the mistakes made in oil and gas in mining by exporting raw ore.
He said minerals mined in the country should be processed before being exported.
According to him, the ministry is currently working on a downstream policy that will make exportation of raw ore illegal.