Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said fully developed mines and steel sector will not only surpass other sectors of the economy in terms of export earnings, it will also create more lucrative jobs and opportunities for many Nigerians.
Osinbajo stated this today at the opening of the 6th Edition of the Nigerian Mining Week in Abuja, where he represented President Muhammadu Buhari as the Special Guest of Honour.
He said the steel sector “will stimulate industrial growth as a local source of raw materials and improve the quality of lives in rural communities.
Assuring of government’s commitment to support mining activities towards shared prosperity for the Nigerian people, the VP observed that the event was “a very significant complement to our vision and sustained effort to accelerate the growth of the mining sector as a major contributor to Nigeria’s economic diversification programme.”
“This is why the Federal Government will continue to intensify its regulatory and supervisory role in ensuring that mining is held to the highest standards of sustainable development and intergenerational equity,” the VP added.
The vice president observed that “the mining sector has always needed a transformational leap to contribute meaningfully to the envisioned economic growth of the country, because, despite the glorious contribution of the mining sector to our national economy in the past and the abundance of mineral resources found in almost every state of the Federation, the growth of the sector stagnated for many years especially since the early 1970s. And there have been many notable efforts by previous administrations to wake up the sleeping giant that is the mining industry.”
Speaking further, he added that the Buhari administration’s commitment towards developing the country’s steel sector has continued to record significant gains over the years.
“We are proud that the indices of development in the sector are rapidly changing. Part of these is the increased revenue generation and, of course, the unprecedented investment interest that the industry has attracted in the past few years.
For instance, the VP noted that “Nigeria, for the first time, has a world-class gold mine in Segilola, Osun State, operated by Thor Exploration, while Eta Zuma Mining and Industries Limited and Mosra Enerji Limited are mining and supplying the coal needs of Dangote and Bua Cement factories.”
Continuing, he said, “in the steel industry, African Natural Resources and Mines limited, owners of the Kagarko Integrated Steel plant, is about to produce liquid steel from its iron ore mine in Kaduna State.
“Several other investors are at different stages of mine development in various parts of the country, and these strategic milestones will hopefully catalyse more mining investment in the country.”
The Vice President emphasized that the development of the steel sector remains a huge priority for the administration.
According to him “our vision for an industrialised nation cannot be achieved without a vibrant steel sector. We understand the huge demand for steel and iron in our domestic markets and across the sub-region. This is why we prioritized the resolution of all the issues constraining the full operation of the Ajaokuta Steel company.
“To this end, a transaction adviser has been appointed to concession the Ajaokuta Steel Company and the Nigerian Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe. The selection process is ongoing. Our commitment is to break the jinx and actualise the dream of a vibrant steel sector.”
He disclosed that since the Administration came into office in 2015, it has “intentionally prioritised the development of the country’s mineral resources as one of the frontiers for economic growth.
“This led to the comprehensive Roadmap for the Growth and Development of the Nigerian Mining Sector and we have steadily followed the steps set out in the roadmap. So far, we can say without fear of contradiction that this administration has committed more resources to the development of the mining sector than any other government in the history of this country,” the Vice President said.
While he noted that “government will continue to intensify its regulatory and supervisory role in ensuring that mining is held to the highest standards of sustainable development and intergenerational equity,” the Vice President urged for more responsibility and accountability from public and private sector entities to ensure sustainable development and mitigate the effects of climate change.
“The extraction of mineral commodities entails considerable impact on land, water, air and other environmental assets that are central to human living, both now and in the future. The painful experience of the negative impact of oil and gas exploitation in the Niger Delta cannot be ignored. Therefore, all operators in the mining sector are obliged by law ethics, and our responsibility for the future, to ensure that proper environmental, social and governance principles are practiced in the sector,” he said.
Noting some of the milestones recorded by the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Prof. Osinbajo also commended the efforts of the Minister, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite, and other stakeholders in providing a conducive environment for investment.
The VP also noted that the organisation of informal miners into productive work groups is another landmark activity for the Ministry.
“The Ministry has increased the formalisation of mining activities and stimulated downstream development by the establishment of a gemstones and Jewellery Marketing Centre in Oyo State, Gold Ore processing plant in Kogi State, a Gold Souk in Kano State, and the construction of a Barite plant in Cross River State, as well as Kaoline plant in Bauchi State and a Lead/Zinc processing plant in Ebonyi State.”
He added that the “aim of these clusters is to provide direct and indirect economic opportunities for many Nigerians,” the VP added.
In his remarks, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite, noted that environmental impact was critical in sustainable mineral development.
He said, “Government has maintained a consistent environmental surveillance and green mining practices to ensure minimum damage to the environment. The Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee (MIREMCO) has been strengthened and the Ministry is keeping constant dialogue with committees in almost all the states of the country.
“The Committees have the responsibility of monitoring mining activities in the states including addressing issues of compensation and community relations.”
At the event, the Vice President also commissioned the on-line innovation, the Electronic Mining Cadastre Plus of the Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office.
The VP was then accompanied by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, as well as the Minister of State, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki, round the exhibition stands, where he interacted and engaged with the participants and exhibitors.
Dignitaries at the event included Senator Tanko Al-Makura who represented the Senate President, among others.