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Nigeria and South Africa in search of prosperity in mining – Part 1

By Kayode Fayemi
04 July 2016   |   2:32 am
The state visit to Nigeria by President Jacob Zuma sometime ago marked the beginning of a new chapter in relations between Nigeria and South Africa. Both countries have shared a sometime turbulent history....
The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Kayode Fayemi

The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Kayode Fayemi

The state visit to Nigeria by President Jacob Zuma sometime ago marked the beginning of a new chapter in relations between Nigeria and South Africa. Both countries have shared a sometime turbulent history; we have also at different times reveled in the joy of aligned moral purpose – at some point towards the dismantling of apartheid, at some other point in the struggle to enthrone democracy.

During the visit, both President Zuma and his host President Muhammadu Buhari made it a point of duty to strengthen the historical bonds of friendship between the peoples of Africa’s two largest economies. The rapprochement between both countries is one of the results of President Buhari’s economic diplomacy, which has focused on rebuilding Nigeria’s image and relationships in the comity of nations. This development can only result in positive outcomes for both economies, and also ensure alignment on the strategic future that we believe offers Africa its full potential.

The visit also offered the opportunity for Nigeria and South Africa to renew the pledge of partnership on a number of key issues including mining. An existing 2013 MOU outlining areas of partnership in the fields of geology, mining, mineral processing and metallurgy which had not been implemented, was resuscitated. President Buhari thus mandated the Ministry Of Solid Minerals Development to work with our South African counterparts to pursue the full implementation of the agreement.

Having identified South Africa as one of our strategic partners towards growing our mining sector, and on the back of improved diplomatic relations, I recently led a small delegation on a two-day working visit to South Africa, during which I met with my counterpart, the Minister of Mineral Resources, Hon. Mosebenzi Joseph Zwane, as well as the leadership of mining-related government entities, mining industry leaders and experts.

Our delegation gained a lot of insights from the knowledge sharing sessions with the leadership of the department of mineral resources, council of geosciences, Mintek and other government entities, and the progressive discussions on opportunities of collaboration with some of South Africa’s finance institutions – especially the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).

Accordingly, the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development has outlined details of the implementation plan for the 2013 MOU on mining which provides details of the priority areas Nigeria wishes to benefit from the South African mining industry’s competitive advantage. These include: advanced geological surveys – detailed geo-sciences data generation; data interpretation analysis and application; assistance in the accreditation of the geosciences analytical metallurgical laboratories in Kaduna; exploration data reporting standards, etc.; mining governance – the review of existing legal and legislative framework; improved mines inspectorate operations and technologies; upgrading and management of cadastral processes and operations e.t.c.; mineral processing and development – processing of industrial minerals; beneficiation processes and technologies; value addition, quality assurance and standards in mineral development, e.t.c.

Other areas include metallurgy – improvement of metallurgical inspectorate operations and technologies; indigenous professional skill acquisition and technology transfer; metallurgical processes; steel making technologies etc; artisanal and small scale mining operation – production/supply of small and medium sized plants and machinery for small and mid-tier mining and processing e.g. the igoli gold processing mill; development of industrial clusters in downstream mineral fabrication and manufacturing; environmental safety and sustainability – enforcement of environmental safety and compliance regulations; review of sustainability frameworks and regulations; remediation processes, e.tc.

Nigeria is also looking to benefit from the wealth of human capital resource in South Africa’s mining industry in areas such as – capacity building in global best practices along the value chain of the mining industry – occupational, health, safety and environment (OHSE), mines inspectorate and revenue collection, Mineral Production Assessment (ASM) management, steel and metallurgical inspectorate technology and regulation, etc.; as well as benefiting from technical assistance in the development of coal-to-power projects in Nigeria as part of our objectives to achieve a vibrant energy mix and realise our target of 10,000 mw of energy by 2019. The ministry also seeks to learn from the optimal organisation of private sector players in the South African mining space.

Conversely, as South Africa’s putative oil industry gets off the ground, Nigeria should share the lessons that our experience affords us. Nigeria’s oil history, while it has a number of prominent missteps, still contains critical lessons which should be shared, together with our expertise in the oil and gas industry built over the years.

Invariably, both our countries need to implement a departure from the perception and treatment of resource-rich locales as extractive farms, and move towards encouraging the establishment of value-added economic activities within them. This administration is particularly focused on creating a broad spectrum of value-added activities by fully maximising the abundant opportunities for mineral beneficiation, exploiting the possibilities inherent in support services and support industries that will be nurtured around core mining activities.
To be continued
Dr. Kayode Fayemi is Minister of Solid Minerals Development