‘Nigeria’s iron ore can generate $60 billion yearly’
Indeed, the stakeholders lamented that despite the huge potential of the sector, it is yet to be given the attention it deserves to change the narrative of the Nigerian economy, adding that the volume of iron ore alone can generate over $60 billion on yearly basis if well managed.
The stakeholders emphasised the need for policy implementation to encourage investors interested in the sector.
The President, Miners Association of Nigeria, Shehu Sanni, said for the sector to grow, there is the need for a conscious and deliberate action that is strategic and timeline based for the development of the sector, saying that the N30 billion interventions by the present administration to salvage the sector is inadequate.
“What the sector needs is not N30 billion, but sustainable funding for a very long time. For instance a declaration can be made to say five per cent of the national budget should be set aside for the development of the solid mineral sector for the next 20 years and implement it properly. This is the kind of investment that would bring life into the sector,” he said.
The National President, NACCIMA, Iyalode Alaba Lawson, at a one-day forum on the potential of the Nigerian mining sector, explained that it is one thing for a nation to be endowed with vast mineral deposits, but another to be a mining nation.
She pointed out that across the world, financing mining is a difficult task, stressing that in Africa it is even more difficult due to the fact that unlike crude oil, mining is a long haul and comes with a lot of risks for investors.
She highlighted some of the challenges hindering the sector to include political instability, absence of appropriate mining policy and environmental laws and regulations, lack of human resources and the expertise to handle mining administration.
“These issues which have been agitating the minds of prospective local investors in the private sector in the wake of the new attention in the mining sector, are the rights of states to minerals in their jurisdiction and issues of royalty. Also, establishment of specialised mining financing companies, support for financing institutions, environmental issues, social issues and corporate social responsibility,” she added.
She expressed NACCIMA’s total commitment to the full harnessing of the potentials of the mining sector and its entire value chain.
Sanni noted that the event was to attract interest from stakeholders outside to join others in the industry in the collective interest of rejuvenating having accepted the fact that it has the potential to assist the Nigerian economy to move to the next level.
He added that the sector has been static for some time, maintaining that the government and industry operators do not have the capacity to reinvigorate it.
He appealed that other players in different sectors of the economy should show interest in investing in mining, saying there must be collective interest to complement federal government’s efforts to resuscitate the sector.
Giving an overview of the Nigerian mining sector, the Chief Executive Officer, Walled Resources Limited, Oyewola Oworu, said the sector is where it is today because the initial level of legislation and support for local activities were absent, which he said, led to a downturn in the mining activities of Nigeria.
He however said within the past few years, the present administration has stepped up by creating platforms, legislation and financial support to attract local and foreign investments into the sector.