The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Alhaji Abubakar Bwari, said on Tuesday that President Muhammadu Buhari was determined to reposition the mining sector and significantly improve its contributions to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Bwari said this in Abuja during the commencement of the implementation of low density Geo-chemical mapping project between China Geological Survey (CGS) and Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA).
According to him, the key areas being considered are the low-density Geo-chemical mapping, the National Geo-Information System and Geo-data sharing, two critical areas necessary for nation building.
He said that Buhari had taken decisive steps in advancing the diversification agenda of the Federal Government by de-risking the sector in many ways.
“The steps are the recent commissioning of the Nationwide Integrated Minerals Exploration Programme (NIMEP), acquisition of 26,000 line-kilometres of Electromagnetic data, improved funding of the sector and initiation of the National Council on Mining.’’
According to him, operationalisation of MOUs with China, Morocco, South Africa and others are part of the administration’s agenda of raising the contribution of the mining sector to the economy of the nation.
Bwari added that the efforts would also address the challenges of youth unemployment, poverty and engendering safer mining practices.
He said that at the commencement of the present administration, the ministry came up with a robust roadmap for the mining sector with the objective of advancing and adding value to the use of different mineral commodities.
“One of the key enablers that will fast-track the achievement of these objectives is the building of the necessary technical and other requisite skills that will ensure the supply of steady talent required by the sector in Nigeria.
“This programme is, therefore, coming at the most auspicious time and we must thank the China Geological Survey for this critical input.’’
He said that with the 44 identified and undiscovered minerals in Nigeria, there was the need for a more defined array of Geoscience information, especially Geo-chemical data essential for mining sector investment and for environmental sustainability.
In his remarks, the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr Zhou Pingjian, said that the ceremony marked a good start of cooperation between two countries in the field of Geosciences.
Pingjian, who was represented by Mr Morph Yao, the embassy’s Economic and Commercial officer, said that a lot would be achieved with the efforts of both countries.
He said that mineral resources and environmental problems were two major issues confronting global economic and social development.
According to him, geochemistry, as an important branch of Geosciences is an effective technical measure to solve these problems.
“In the past 40 years, through systematic Geochemical surveys, China has delineated tens of thousands of Geochemical anomalies of several elements.
“It discovered more than 2,500 ore deposits of various types, which effectively support the demand for energy and mineral resources for the rapid economic development of China.
“Up to now, China has formulated a set of relatively sophisticated theories and methods on regional geochemical survey, established a high-precision analysis and testing system for 76 chemical elements and developed 234 types of Geochemical reference materials.
“We shall share our experience and the concepts with Nigerian scientists,’’ he said.
Pingjian said that the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on bilateral geoscience cooperation on Nov. 23, 2016.
He said that on Sept. 23, 2017, the two parties also signed the agreement on cooperative projects of “Low Density Geochemical Mapping in Nigeria” and “National Geo-information System and Geo-Data Sharing in Nigeria”.
According to Mr Alex Nwegbu, Director-General, Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA), the project will include training of staff in Geochemical mapping.
Nwegbu said the capacity would enhance the professionals in the field of mining in Nigeria, adding that other agencies and sectors would also benefit from the project.