The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite, has stated that the roles played by the National Metallurgical Development Centre (NMDC) and the Nigerian Institute of Mining and Geosciences (NIMG) Jos will help achieve the desired growth in the sector.
Adegbite stated this over the weekend during his working visit to the two organisations under his ministry in Jos, Plateau State.
The minister who expressed satisfaction with the progress made by the agencies said he was unsurprised by the achievements recorded since the assumption of both chief executives, pointing out that results easily come when competent hands take charge of critical agencies of government.
He referred to them as “experts who have done a lot of research in different areas” relating to the minerals and metals sector.
On the contributions of NIMG to the economy, Adegbite disclosed that the agency is currently training a lot of people in gemstones identification, cutting, polishing and so on which, according to him, would enable Nigerians to use the gemstones which abound in the country, rather than exporting them in their raw state.
He said some of the faculties in the school are also a part of the jewellery-making training ongoing in Abuja. These faculties, he said, are also a repository of knowledge and technical expertise on how different gemstones can be identified, cut, polished and made into jewellery.
Speaking on the positive impacts the NMDC has played, the minister said that any nation desiring independence and technological progress must have its steel production.
“This centre is a technological hub without which Nigeria cannot make it. A lot has been done here and [a lot] more needs to be done. Where they are today is no mean feat. They have done so much and they can also do more,” he noted.
He cited an MoU signed with the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) on local production of armaments for the Nigerian Armed Forces as a step in the right direction.
“DICON had to look inward during COVID-19 restrictions and found out that what it has been importing into the country could be done even better locally in NMDC, Jos.”
He said both agencies need more funds to achieve their mandates and ensure Nigeria takes her pride of place in the global minerals and metals sector, even as he promised to address the funding issue before the current administration’s tenure winds down.
In his opening remarks, the director-general of NMDC, Prof. Linus Asuquo said the activities of the agency are crucial in value additions and development of processes for the entire processing chain; from exploration to extraction and fabrication.
He stated that the mandate of the centre vested the responsibility of the conduct of research and development work in minerals and metallurgy in all their ramifications in the centre.
Asuquo said significant progress has been recorded since the inception of the current administration, especially in renewing infrastructure and building capacity, to bring the development establishments in other developing countries such as Mintek in South Africa, CMRDI in Egypt and Mefos in Sweden.
He appreciated the dynamic leadership of the minister for the acquisition and supply of new state-of-the-art equipment. This equipment, according to him, enhanced the centre’s capacity for minerals identification, processing, metallurgical research and analysis as well the conduct of forensic science.
The DG, however, pointed out that a lot still needs to be done to succeed in research and development works for the diversification of the economy.
He appealed for the ministry’s continuous support to the centre in its effort to contribute effectively to the government’s objective of transforming the minerals and metals sector into major contributors to [the nation’s] GDP but also rely on itself by generating the income it needs to fund its expenses and research work.
Earlier in his address, the NIMG director-general, Prof. Bolaji Hassan, said the mission of the agency is to be an international centre of excellence in the training of manpower and the conduct of research in the exploration and exploitation of minerals for national development.
Hassan said the NIMG is committed to the idea of resuscitating mining and minerals processing engineering and skills acquisition in Nigeria.
“To achieve these laudable programmes, we must be proactive in developing our human capacity requirements to bridge the gap through training, research and skill acquisition, short courses specifically tailored to meet the present and future needs of our mining, minerals and metal sector,” he further explained.
He disclosed that the agency is committed to rendering professional knowledge and expertise through short duration courses, to enable them to train and equip Nigerians with skills in specialised areas like lapidary, gemstone cutting and polishing, jewellery making, basic mining practice for miners, quarry management among others.
In a statement by the director of press signed by Idowu Jokpeyibo, he solicited more funding to assist the agency to develop its infrastructure and deliver on its mandate.