The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in Nigeria, Mr Edet Akpan, says the ministry will ensure that the solid mineral sector makes significant contributions to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He stated this during a webinar themed: “Post COVID-19 Nigeria: the impact and opportunities on the mining Industry” which was organised by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
The Permanent Secretary noted that COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown of the economy had drastically affected businesses and industries as well as fall in global oil prices.
He added that local and global demand for various metals and minerals had also plunged because of the pandemic, while royalty and tax payments had reduced in tandem with the fall in production and revenues.
“The lockdown has disrupted, and appears to be threatening to destroy an already fragile sector and might present a huge set back to Nigerian miners.
“But, even at that, we have a duty to meet the medium term plans, at ensuring that the sector’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 0.33 per cent in 2015 to 3.0 per cent by the year 2050 is achieved,” he said.
Akpan thanked the NESG for collaborating with the ministry to develop the minerals and metal sector in furtherance of Federal Government’s focus on sustainable economic development.
He added that in spite of the COVID-19 challenges, the ministry had undertaken some progressive steps to bridge the gaps and boost development in the mining and metals sector.
According to him, the ministry has created a road map for the growth and development of the sector to put its roles in proper perspective.
This, he said, was especially in tracking some of the problems in the sector which included insufficient funding, lack of bankable geological data and weak institutional capacity.
He further added that others were: inadequate supporting Infrastructure, low productivity, illegal mining, weak implementation and enforcement of mining laws and regulations.
“There are also issues of insufficient access to finance for mineral exploration and production. The ministry has in line with the objectives of the existing road map begun the National Integrated Mineral Exploration Project (NIMEP).
“This is aimed at providing reliable geosciences data for some key minerals such as Gold, Lead, Zinc, Iron Ore, and Rare Metals among others.
“Also, some sections of the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited were renovated and upgraded recently, and discussions are ongoing to ensure the revamping of the complex, National Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO) Limited and others,” he stated.
Akpan expressed optimism that the ministry and the NESG would confront the challenges in the sector and boost investments and diversification of the country’s economy.