The federal government has declared that Nigeria is becoming a fast destination for mining investments courtesy of the National Integrated Mineral Exploration Project (NIMEP).
This was announced by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr. Olamilekan Adegbite, at the Nigeria Mining Summit, which was organised yesterday by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).
Adegbite said that the country is attracting attention from both local and foreign investors while the financial sector has also begun to support activities in the mining sector.
He, therefore, called for corporate companies to join the sector to reduce the activities of artisanal and small scale miners.
He said: “NIMEP is a government programme to show the way, but the money is still very small and the $50 million we had, we were only be able to do four minerals out of the 44 minerals discovered. Exploration is a very huge capital intensive project so the $50 million could only target four minerals.
“What we want to do is that the results from this NIMEP initiative would be sold through auction to have a revolving fund, so that the money that comes back from this would be used for further exploration.”
He explained that the summit was to explore ways of funding the mining sector, and asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to do more to support the sector in terms of funding.
Speaking on the relevance of fossil fuel, the minister said that fossil fuels would remain relevant to the Nigerian economy over the next 30 years since solid minerals that would serve as its replacement have not received the kind of investment that would give the country the quantum of minerals needed to replace fossil fuels.
“We have not even discovered those deposits. We are talking lithium, copper and the rest. We have not even discovered where they are and not to talk of morning them. So in the interim, fossil fuel would linger.
“We have built demonstration plants all over the country and we have six of such in our six geopolitical zones,” Adegbite said.
Earlier, the President, LCCI, Dr. Michael Olawale-Cole, who was represented by the Vice president of LCCI, Mr. Leye Kupoluyi, said the theme of the summit tagged “Solid Minerals: The Foreign Exchange Game,” sought to facilitate stakeholders’ dialogue among federal regulatory agencies, financial institutions, and industry practitioners form the mining and solid minerals sector to discuss the untapped opportunities in the sector.
Olawale-Cole stated that the conference would also highlight the inherent benefits of the sector to all stakeholders, with special emphasis on the financial institutions.
He noted that solid minerals exports in Q4, 2021 stood at N13.56 billion, a decrease of 25.95 per cent compared to Q3, 2021 but increased by 201.41 per cent when compared to the corresponding quarter of 2020.
“These are confirmations about the potentials in the solid minerals sector yet untapped,” he bemoaned.
He recommended that the need for the federal government to establish a robust fiscal framework, saying that the existing fiscal framework for investors in the mining sector is not friendly enough and does not consider the peculiar nature of the sector, particularly, its long gestation period.
“Therefore, Nigeria will need to revisit the entire fiscal framework for the taxation of mining operations, to attract mining majors and foreign investors,” he said.
The president of the LCCI also emphasised the need for Nigeria to address its worsening insecurity across mineral-rich communities in the Northern region and other mining communities, lamenting that insecurity has continued to undermine production and investment in the sector.
“The LCCI will continue to support the efforts of the government in the implementation of market-oriented reforms and also promote enterprises in the sector to continue to innovate and increase productivity given the liberalisation of the African market through the operationalization of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” he said.
The Chairman, Mining and Solid Mineral Group, LCCI, Mr. Seun Olatunji, advised Nigeria to take advantage of the surging global metal prices as a result of the new energy markets and global uncertainties.
Olatunji said considering the new CBN’s policy, RT 200 FX programme that is aimed to achieve $200 billion foreign exchange repatriation in five years, the key factor for the success of the policy will be to focus attention, resources and aggressively support solid minerals value addition.
“We must acknowledge and commend the current leadership of the Minister for all they are pushing at the Federal Economic Council (FEC) to make sure value addition is ensured in the mineral sector,” he said.