Monday, July 4, 2022

Nigeria, Belgium To Partner On Mining Sector Development

MMSD Belgium
L-R: The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc Olamilekan Adegbite; Permanent secretary of the ministry, Dr. Oluwatoyin Akinlade; Ambassador of Belgium to Nigeria, Daniel Bertrand and the Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Uche Ogah, when the envoy paid a courtesy call on the minister in his office in Abuja.

Nigeria has revealed its willingness and readiness to partner with Belgium to promote the development of the nation’s mining sector.

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite, revealed this when he received the Belgian Ambassador to Nigeria, Daniel Bertrand, in his office in Abuja, saying the ministry was making the sector more vibrant by fulfilling its mandate to diversify the economy away from oil, create jobs and raise the revenue profile of the government.

He also stated that the ministry’s recent achievement in the area of local barite production that met the American Petroleum Institute (API) standard would save the country millions of dollars spent on importing barite.

The minister revealed that the country was also looking towards exporting barite to some African countries. “Last year we launched the Nigerian barite to show that we can now produce barite that meets the API standard in our country.

“This will save us millions of dollars spent on importing barite every year, create jobs and lead to skills’ specialisation in some specific fields. Also, we are looking at the possibilities of eventually exporting barite to other African countries which would earn our country revenue,” he said. 

Adegbite disclosed that the ministry was creating a viable gold ecosystem in the country and opening up areas for foreign investors to take up stakes in the gold subsector.

He noted that a Canadian company – Thor Exploration – had started producing gold in commercial quantities through the Segilola Gold Project in Osun state.

“Nigeria has a lot of gold and we are developing the sector to attract investment into it. Nigeria is not just about oil and gas. We are richly endowed with diverse mineral assets in varying mixes and proven reserves. As we pursue our growth innovations through continued exploration, more mineral types and finds are being discovered. We can confirm that every zone in Nigeria has some minerals to bring to the national table of resource riches. As of today, about 44 minerals have been identified,” he said.

Also, the minister informed the ambassador about the mining-related clusters across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria.

“These activities will boost the productivity of artisanal and small-scale mining, generate wealth and create employment opportunities for the youths. The programme is financed by the Federal Government under the COVID-19 Stimulus Programme. The programme comprises the set-up of a gold souk (market) in Kano to encourage import substitution, gemstones’ marketing and processing centre in Ibadan, a gold processing centre in Mopa-Muro in Kogi State, a barite processing centre in Ogoja, kaoline processing facility in Bauchi and the lead zinc processing centre in Abakaliki,” he stated.

Adegbite also revealed that the ministry had instituted some business-friendly incentives and policies in the sector to make it more attractive to foreign investors.

“Some of the incentives we have instituted to make the sector more attractive to investors include customs and import duties waiver for plant, machinery and equipment imported for mining operations; Tax holidays of between three to five years as applicable, free transferability of funds and permission to retain and use earned foreign exchange, capital allowances of up to 95 per cent of qualifying capital expenditure, deductibility of environmental costs (money meant for environmental remediation will be tax-free), 100 per cent ownership of mineral properties,” he added. 

A statement by the minister’s special assistant on media, Ayodeji Adeyemi, said Bertrand had expressed his country’s interest in the sector.   

“I am just looking to see if there is any possibility of cooperation between both countries as your sector is concerned,” he added.

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