The mining of minerals in Nigeria accounts for only 0.3% of its GDP, due to the influence of its vast oil resources. The domestic mining industry is underdeveloped, leading to Nigeria having to import minerals that it could produce domestically, such as salt or iron ore.
The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, says the World Bank is working closely with the Federal Government to review the country’s privatised mining enterprises.
Fayemi, who made this known in Abuja, said the collaboration was with a view to making the privatised enterprises functional.
He said the bank would also help Nigeria exploit its minerals to achieve its planned diversification of the economy
“We are also working with them (World Bank) to take a clue from them from what obtains in other jurisdiction in terms of legal and regulatory framework and to help us review all of the privatised assets.
“We have assets in mining that have been privatised. What is really happening to them now?
“Katsina Steel Rolling Mill is there, Jos Steel Rolling Mill is there, Oshogbo steel Rolling Mill is there, Itakpe is there, Delta is there
“What is the asset? All of the assets that we have privatised may not have been under our government, but Nigeria has privatised them.
“What has happened to them? What is their status now? How do we take it forwar
“So, we are working with BPE. BPE has just given me an analysis of the status of the privatised assets. It is now up to us to decide.
“We sold this to you 10 years ago and you have not done anything with it.
“What is in the law that will allow us to hold you accountable for what you have bought that you have not utilised in the interest of the Nigerian people.
“It not just enough for you to purchase an asset and then you go to sleep.’’
Fayemi said the World Bank would also assist the ministry to establish a Chamber of Mines in the country to involve big players in the sector.
He said the ministry had a regulatory responsibility to help organise the sector better, adding that it was negotiating with the World Bank to strengthen the industry.
According to him, the Federal Government has identified exploration of the mineral resources as key to achieving sustainable development.
“They are also (World Bank) working with us on exploration which we have identified as a major priority.
“Nigeria is largely a greenfield in mining; we have not done any serious exploration.
“Many of the things you hear that Nigeria possesses, people usually pick them, it is alluvial – it is only surface mining that we do.
“We have not dogged 300 metres in most parts of Nigeria not to talk of 1,000 metres and what you see on the surface is an indication of what you have under the groun
“And if you don’t do the necessary exploration, you don’t get a sense of what you have
“And as I have indicated recently, we don’t have country around us Ghana, Burkina Faso spending 100, millions of dollars on exploration and we are spending peanut- 200,000 dollars, it doesn’t work so World Bank is also assisting us with exploration activities.’’
Fayemi said the ministry had developed a road map, according to the diversification task given to it by the Federal Government.
He said the road map for the sector stated the vision, focus and the strategies that could be used to grow the solid minerals sector.
The minister said the committee set up to produce the road map came up with a robust document, which outlined priority areas and how to mine in commercial quantity.
Fayemi said mining was about exploration, adding: “you can say you have 200 minerals; it doesn’t mean much, if you cannot dig it and produce it commercially.’’