The Minister for Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite, has called for professionalism and expertise for the development of the mineral sector as part of efforts to develop and reposition the solid minerals sector for maximum utilisation of the nation’s over 44 mineral resources in line with the present administration’s keenness to diversify the economy.
He made this call during the 57th Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society (NMGS) annual international conference and exhibition, themed “Geosciences, Mining and Environmental Sustainability” held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
According to him, the country needs competent people to harness the full potential of the vast mineral deposits spread across every state and local government area. He enjoined them to come up with clear, actionable initiatives that would help drive the vision of the ministry in actualising its mandate to diversify the economy through the sector.
“I, therefore charge experts in this conference to come up with definite milestones and deliverables regarding the untapped potentials of economical mineral endowments in the country.”
Represented by the director-general, Mining Cadastre Office (MCO), Engr. Obadiah Nkom, Adegbite, while expressing the ministry’s readiness to assist the NMGS, tasked it to identify modern ways of harnessing the mineral commodities sustainably for the benefit of the country.
In his paper presentation titled “Addressing Environmental Issues in the Nigerian Mineral Sector: Regulatory Laws; Policies and Practices”, the Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah, noted that while the sector provides vital raw materials and energy for a large number of industries, its activities are still commonly considered a threat to the natural surroundings, with environmental effects on the air, water, soils and landscape.
Speaking further, Ogah, represented by Patrick Ojeka, director, artisanal and small-scale mining, enumerated the various environmental issues and impacts of mining, noting that one of the ministry’s technical departments, the department of mines environmental compliance (MEC), has the responsibility to ensure that the industry is environmentally conscious and maintains ecological integrity as well as the mandate to enforce environmental compliance in mineral resource development in Nigeria. He added that the environmental requirements for operators in the sector have been put in place for every stakeholder regarding environmental obligations.
Earlier, the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, who was represented by the state commissioner for Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, Dr. Peter Medee, said the theme of the conference was timely, considering the global challenges posed by global warming, climate change and energy transition.
He noted that the country needed to reposition itself properly to articulate and benefit from the transition while conserving the environment for cleaner energy and environmental sustainability. He, however, tasked the professionals and academia to carry out the transition from fossil fuel to cleaner energy in a manner that will ensure the country has the corporate advantage.
In his welcome address, the president, Nigerian Mining Geosciences Society (NMGS), Alabo Charles, revealed that the society which has about 10,000 members across multiple fields of geosciences, meteorology, oil and gas and environmental services is critical to the national and sub-national economies of the country.
A statement by the ministry’s director, press and public relations unit, Tine-Iulun M.A, said Alabo noted that the theme of the conference was carefully chosen because of the growing need for a balanced economic social and environmental consideration as the nation strives to explore and exploit its natural resources.