Mr Olailekan Adegbite, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, says the ban on mining activities in Zamfara will only be lifted if security situation in the state improves.
Adegbite made this known during the Maiden edition of the Ministry’s strategic virtual engagement with the 774 Local Government Council Chairman and other key Mining Stakeholders on Thursday in Abuja.
The virtual conference has the theme, “Sustainable Mining in Nigeria: The critical Role of Local Governments for the Realisation of Economic Diversification Agenda Through the Mineral Sector’.
He said that the ban was meant to address the insecurity situation in the state, adding that Zamfara is blessed with abundant gold.
“We have no power to lift the ban; only President Muhammadu Buhari has the power to lift the ban placed on mining activities in Zamfara,” he said.
According to him, Nigeria is endowed with over 44 different mineral types occurring in commercial quantities in over 500 locations across the 36 States and FCT.
Adegbite said that all Area Councils and Local Governments were endowed with one or more mineral deposits that could be harnessed for the development of the LGAs.
” Imagine a scenario in which the mineral deposits in every local government council are fully harnessed and exploited.
“This will bring accompanying development to such communities as the domiciled mining companies will bring about stable electricity, good road infrastructure and security.
“Mining indeed offers robust economic potential for large scale infrastructure development to support both mining and non-mining activities.
“But beyond that, it also serves as a catalyst for the economic diversification agenda, job creation and increased government revenue, which is our core mandate,” he said.
The minister said that the Roadmap formulated by the ministry in 2016 gave clear policy direction on how to develop the sector and to unlock the potential in the sector.
According to him, under this initiative, seven minerals out of the 44 were designated for immediate development and the seven minerals include, coal, iron ore, bitumen, gold, limestone, lead-zinc and barite.
“We have also adopted a forward-thinking approach, by developing the strategic minerals of the future.
“These include minor metals such as titanium and cobalt, which are vital to futuristic industries such as telecoms and electric vehicle manufacturing.
“Indeed, our reforms have begun to bear fruits.”
Adegbite highlighted some of the achievements which had helped to de-risk the sector, thus making it investor-friendly, such as operationalised Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (ASM) Remote Sensing Monitoring System to regulate and support ASM activities.
“We are about to complete the automation of the Mining Cadastral System to meet international full standards for online mining title and license applications and approvals and decentralise the Mining Cadastral Office (MCO) administrative system.
” We are currently establishing a Nigeria Geo Data Centre at the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA) to ease online access to correct geological reports and data for investment decisions and research
He also said that the recent establishment of the Investment Promotion and Mineral Trade Department had demonstrated Nigeria zeal and preparedness to welcome global investment partners.
” I will like to encourage the LGAs to take advantage of this vital department, any of the LGA Chairman can walk up to the department to make enquiries about the minerals that have caught the attention.”
He urged area councils to seize the opportunity of the conference and rub minds together to ensure the development of the sector and the nation at large.
Also, the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, said that unless Nigeria got the management of its solid mineral resources right, Nigerians would continue to live in the terrible paradox of suffering in the midst of plenty.
He noted that in spite of the mandate given to the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development to regulate mining in the country, many States and Local Government embarked on their own rules and regulations to control mining in their states.
“Some state governments in a bid to increase their revenue, issue permit, registrations, impose legal fees, taxes level’s on foreign and local mining investors among others.
“This actions jeopardised the actions of the Federal government to actively deepen the mining sector in Nigeria,” he said. (NAN)