Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dele Alake said the ministry would focus on a seven-point agenda including the creation of the Nigerian Solid Minerals Corporation, Joint Ventures with Mining Multinationals.
He also said it would include Big Data on specific seven priority minerals and their deposits, 30-day grace for illegal miners to join artisanal cooperatives, Mines Surveillance Task Force and Mine Police, Comprehensive review of all mining licenses and the creation of six Mineral Processing Centres to focus on Value-Added products.
He stated,: “The minister also said the ministry is introducing a security tax force and mines police that will help the country combat illegal mining and smuggling.
“From October, a rejuvenated security regime will become active in the solid minerals sector. This will include the Mine Police, sourced from the Nigeria Police and specially trained to detect illegal mining and apprehend offenders. The new Mines Surveillance Security Task Force will coordinate the Mines Police and proactively address high risk incidences of breach of Mining Laws. The Federal and State governments will also be encouraged to allocate the prosecution of cases against illegal miners to competent courts.”
According to the Minister, the corporate body will have subsidiaries doing business in the seven priority areas that require immediate intervention and focus which include: Gold, Coal, Limestone, Bitumen, Lead, Iron-ore and Baryte. Existing enterprises, such as the National Iron-Ore Company, and ongoing arrangements, such as the Bitumen Concessioning Programme, will be reviewed to fit into this new system.
“The proposed corporation will seek and secure partnership investment agreements with big multinational companies worldwide to leverage on the attractive investment-friendly regime operating in the country to secure massive Foreign Direct Investment for the mining sector. The positioning of the national corporation as a guarantor and protector of the partnership agreements is expected to assure partners of our seriousness and fidelity.
“Similarly, the Solid Minerals Corporation will provide robust support for Nigerian businessmen seeking funding abroad and help to authenticate their investment proposals to speed up the commitment of their partners to invest. Domestically, the Solid Minerals Corporation will engage the Nigerian financial system, which has demonstrated palpable reluctance to support mineral prospecting and mining because of the long-term gestation of value generation by developing a Fund to facilitate investments in mining at interest rates that will be mutually agreed,” the minister said.
“The minister said the country will leverage on the abundant precious minerals including gold, manganese, bitumen, lithium, iron ore, lead, zinc, limestone, uranium, columbite, barite, kaolin, gemstones, coal, topaz and copper that are in massive proportions to attract investors into country.
“Nigeria has an estimated reserves include Gold (1 million ounces); Limestone (568 metric tonnes), Lead/Zinc, (Baryte (15 million metric tonnes), Bitumen (N1.1 billion barrels), Iron Ore (3 billion Metric Tonnes) and Coal, (N396 million). How did a sector with over 2 million operators, including over 633 small-scale companies and 251, 500 registered miners.” the minister said.
A lake also added that the ministry will add at least 50% to the Nigerian economy, just as he said that the Ministry is poised to attract Foreign Direct Investment to the country.