Abuja, Oct. 12, 2020 Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development says the ministry has embarked on policies and projects to cushion the economic shocks of COVID-19.
Adegbite made this known at the opening of the 5th Annual Nigeria Mining Week on Monday, holding virtually from Oct. 12 to Oct. 16 in Abuja.
The Nigeria Mining Week will take place in a digital format for the first time as the event drives vital revenues for suppliers and mining operators that are important to stakeholders at this time.
The minister said that the ministry’s starting point in addressing COVID-19 challenges was the enhancement of domestic knowledge, skills and technology in mining institutions to improve mining governance.
“We have also intensified our efforts at generating reliable geodata and providing an investor-friendly ecosystem for the rapid development of the sector for the post-COVID markets.
“Under our programme, we are re-equipping our institutions and extensively training our staff.
“The Nigerian Geological Survey Agency Laboratory, the National Metallurgical Development Centre and the Nigerian Institute of Mines and Geosciences are being strengthened to provide research and build capacity in the sector.
“The ministry is conducting stakeholders’ consultation to educate and sensitise communities, state and local governments as well as civil society groups on their roles in fostering the development of the mining industry for shared prosperity,” he said.
According to him, the ministry is introducing digital service platforms and infrastructure for the efficient governance of the sector.
Adegbite said that a Remote Sensing Centre located in Abuja had been established to identify and manage informal and registered mining co-operative sites throughout the country.
“Government is currently establishing a complete and comprehensive electronic National Geo-Data Centre which will include current and colonial geoscientific data.
“The Geo-Data will easily be a global network and accessible in a digital format to all investors and researchers.”
He said that government had designed a range of skills-building and livelihood enhancement programmes to generate employment opportunities for a large number of youths.
“The skills development programme on gemstones and jewellery making will soon commence while the revitalisation of the famous Ladi Kwali Centre to train youths on pottery making is at an advanced stage.
“It is the intention of government to replicate these centres in other political zones of the country.”
The minister said that as the nation embarked on economic recovery and sustenance plan; government would target the development of some strategic minerals that would have significant impact on the economy.
“The Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMI) has successfully taken off informal mining, operators are now being organised into mining co-operatives and integrated into the institutional mining framework.
“The cooperatives are currently being provided with extension services while the gold produced is purchased and processed for supply to central bank.
“Nigeria is on the verge of making a strong breakthrough in building a sustainable gold ecosystem.
“The Segilola Gold Project, which is under construction is Nigeria’s most advanced gold project with the capacity to process 650,000 tonnes per annum.
“Two firms have also been granted licenses to build gold refineries.”
“The National Integrated Mineral Exploration Programme (NIMEP) has entered its fourth phase out of the five phases that were scheduled.
“This phase will involve extensive drilling and analyses of samples of target areas. Already, tracts of mineralisation with significant findings are being discovered.”
The minister said that the Mining Cadastre Office had been upgraded to an online system, and six zonal offices had been created.
Alhaji Kabir Kankara, the President, Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN) said that the programme, which started five years ago was to showcase and promote the abundant minerals available in Nigeria to the world.
Kankara said there was nothing like diversification agenda on Nigerian economy through the mining sector five years ago but the mining week events had been able to connect Nigeria to other mining countries.
“We have learnt a lot through this programme from South Africa on mining and from other mining countries; we are making headway to level up with other mining countries.”
More than 2000 participants are expected to take part in the event including 30 sponsors, exhibitors, matchmaking platform and nine webinars sessions among others.