By Oluwaseun Sonde, Abuja.
Honourable Minister of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD), Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite has said that for the mineral and metal sector to significantly contribute to the country’s Growth Domestic Product (GDP), the ministry must continually engage the stakeholders.
He made this known in his keynote addressed at the closing session of the 3rd Meeting of the National Council on Mining and Mineral Resources Development (NCMMRD) in Ado- Ekiti, Ekiti State capital.
The theme of the three-day council meeting which took place recently “Nigeria Minerals and Metal Sector: Spectrum for Investment Opportunities for Economic Growth and Development.
He said many well intentioned policies and programmes initiated in the past could not make much impact due to lack of broad based buy-in and support from critical stakeholders.
He informed the participants at the meeting that the Ministry has made it a priority to engage all stakeholders at the various stages of implementation of the mining roadmap initiated by his predecessor and the current Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
Adegbite said that the Ministry has engaged major stakeholders to ensure the formalization of the Artisanal Miners into cooperative groups for easier management access to financial support and commodity markets. He added that the ASM formalization policy of the government is an instrument of poverty alleviation, empowerment and job creation.
The Minister disclosed that the Ministry has so far identified a total number of 1,759 Artisanal and Small Scale Miners (ASM) sites across the country while 1,346 Artisanal Mining operators have been drawn into forming registered Artisanal Mining cooperatives to enable them access Small-scale Mining License.
The Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, in his opening address stressed the need for stakeholders engagements to guide against unsafe mining practices and to support artisanal miners to better organise themselves into cooperatives.
He said there was need for continuous advocacy for diversification of the economy, adding that there were economic opportunities in mining and mineral resources development if properly harnessed.
Fayemi noted that the efforts in the mining sector had brought critical leverage as mineral resources and environmental management committees had been resuscitated in more than 30 states of the federation, including Ekiti State.
The governor who is also the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) said the country’s mining sector enjoyed the good will of development partners. This, he said, resulted in the approval of $150. million for Mining Diversification Program through the Mineral Sector Support for Economic Diversification (MinDiver) office.
Fayemi, however, stressed the need for increase funding for the sector because of its capital intensive nature, adding that this would attract more investors into it and give them confidence that government was not lagging behind.
He challenged the council to proffer ways of engaging mining stakeholders to ensure they contribute their quota towards the growth of the sector as he expressed optimism that the outcome of the conference would receive the support of all stakeholders.
The governor tasked the council to device strategies and policies that would ensure that the sector contribute significantly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Discussions at the meeting focused on strategies for sustainable mining and value addition, addressing security challenges in the sector and how to foster synergy among the three tiers of government, among others.
The meeting had in attendance commissioners and permanent secretaries in charge of mining and mineral resources from the 36 states of the federation, academia, private sector, security agencies, leaders of mining unions and other stakeholders.
The Honourable Minister of State, Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah in his closing remarks, said the renewed vigour of the Ministry is impacting positively on the mining and metal sector.
Ogah commended the interest and political will of President Muhammadu Buhari to move the sector forward in line with his administration’s commitment to diversification of the economy using the mining and metal sector.