Concerned bodies that seek to bring a total change to the face of the Mining Industry and Civil Society Organisations brought the Ministries of Mines and Steel Development and Environment together on the 13th day of February, 2017 at Rockview Hotel, Wuse I I, Abuja to factor out ways to efficaciously partner and bring about the desired sectoral reform that has hitherto rented the economic fabric that the Nation is adorned with – from the Mining sector.
The Honourable Minister of Mines and Steel Development was ably represented by his Chief of Staff – Mr Egghead Odewale. The Minister, in his usual liveliness and strong enthusiasm welcomed all Heads of CSOs present to the event, in the same vein he said “It is always a delight for me to interface with a constituency which I hold dearly haven been a member for a considerable part of my life. There is always a nostalgic feeling associated with these intermittent interactions with most diverse people-oriented sector within the nation state…”
He started his speech with a brief overview of the Ministry’s efforts in boosting the sector towards the agenda of diversifying revenue accruals to the Federal Government.
Dr. Fayemi highlighted some few challenges barricading the growth of the sector among which Insufficient Funding, Lack of Geological Data, Weak Institutional Capacity, Limited Supporting Infrastructure, Limited Cooperative Federalism, Low Productivity, Illegal Mining and Community Challenges, Weak Ease of doing business and Perception issues, Protracted Litigations on Legacy Assets were mentioned.
In furtherance, he gave a review of the past year – 2016 and was quick to point out that the past year 2016 was one of the toughest since the world emerged from the great recession about 7 years ago. He praised all stakeholders because “Much of what has been achieved has been a result of the collective efforts of all stakeholders, based on shared vision of the sector, which we have articulated in a roadmap, Our Ministry considers all stakeholders as partners with a common goal, which is why we spend time engaging with various publics, providing feedback, sharing our vision, and eliciting more concerted participation”
On funds not being sufficient for the sector to thrive, the former Ekiti State Governors had this to say;
“We sought for N30bn intervention fund from the Federal Government, partly to help provide cheap loans and grants to industry participants as well as for directly investing in foundation infrastructure… we got approval got activation and securing access to the revolving Mining Sector component of the Natural Resources Development Fund”.
He made it known at the event that the Ministry is working with Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, The Nigerian Stock Exchange and others to assemble a $600m investment fund for the sector.
A large dose of relief as the Minister revealed that the Ministry has secured support from the World Bank for the funding of the Mineral Sector Support Fund for Economic Diversification (MSSED or MinDiver) program which is to provide technical assistance for the restructuring and operationalisation of Solid Minerals Development fund.
Dr. Fayemi said the Ministry is working out modalities to engage world-class exploration companies to collaborate with her data generating agencies towards providing bankable data to attract big players in the Mining sector. This is in a bid to bridge the gap of unavailability of Geological Data.
The Sector has been assailed with gross illegal mining and also plagued by conspicuous and outrageous community challenges but the Minister informed us that “We are working with the state governments and relevant Ministries to formalise and manage our artisanal miners, while also working with defense and security agencies to cure the actions of illegal mining in the country”
In the light of all these, there is an outlook for the year 2017 and years ahead as expectations and projections were highlighted. The Ministry is to focus on priority areas of competitive advantage to drive growth, some of which are:
- Priority Minerals as iron ore, coal, bitumen, limestone, lead/zinc, gold and barite have been identified as key for Nigeria’s domestic industrialization and infrastructural requirements.
- Served Market – Nigeria will initially focus on the domestic market, trading ore and processed materials to domestic buyers at a quality level comparable to imported materials to win market share from imports. As global commodity market recover, Nigeria will then seek to serve both domestic and export market. Nigeria will also seek to exploit its mineral assets in such a way as to preserve and extend the life of its holdings for future generations and manage earnings carefully.
According to the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, to achieve these set goals, Specific Objectives were outlined which include the under-listed:
- The set-up of the Mining Implementation and Strategy Team (MIST) to drive the execution of the roadmap
- Restructuring and reorganization of the MSMD for more efficient operations, and enforcement of established laws and regulations governing the mining sector.
- Commencement of process of working with National and State legislatures and governments to address gaps, and resolve conflicts in mineral resource legislation.
- Development of a strategy to use priority minerals domestically and substitute exports.
The Heads of CSOs present were more than ready to give their all towards achieving a meaningful success in the Sector.
The Minister, however, gave a list of suggestions required of the CSOs in bringing growth and development into the industry. He suggests that;
- CSOs could help improve the knowledge assets and awareness of stakeholders including the Civic public about the Mining sector.
- CSOs should help Monitor the decisions, promises, programmes and plans of the Ministry against available resources to ascertain value of resource application
- CSOs should critique the plans and programmes of government to ensure best value for Nigeria and Nigerians in the short to long run.
- CSOs should help Monitor Mining operations to ensure that investors or operators maintain Fidelity to their community development agreement. Especially, monitor corporate social responsibility impacts of mining operators.
- CSOs should help support the promotion and realisation of the NEITI principles and programmesAmong others.
- CSOs should help should assist in the coordination, organisation and management of ASM cooperatives.
- CSOs can also help to empower community representatives to assess and flag mining operations, which may undermine the health and safety of their communities.
The Honourable Minister fielded questions from participants of this Engagement and gave insightful responses where required, some of the few questions raised was from the CEO of Connected Development, Mr Hamzat Lawal, he asked the Honourable Minister if it was possible to get the names of the companies that have been licensed to Mine.
He asked further that Datas of ecological funds that have been given to states should be made public so information would be available to work with.
The Co-Founder of Follow The Money rounded off by asking the Honorable Minster his Ministry’s plan for Safer Mining Process putting into consideration what happened in Shikira.
The Minister also responded to a question raised by a participant asking what the Ministry is doing in terms of technological monitoring of extraction sites. He said provisions are underway for that as proper investigation will be done in that regard.
In conclusion, he appealed for perseverance as right measures are taken and implementation of the sustainable reforms that would outlive his tenure are entrenched.
He said “I invite you to join us as we continue on this road to rebuilding this sector, unlocking it’s full potential, and making it one of the key sources of our future prosperity”.
Olusegun Olagunju is the Media Strategist at Connected Development, He’s a Sociologist. He hopes to see a world where equal rights of all genders will be respected and a safe environment will be achieved. He tweets via @mobolsgun