The quest to attract investment to the Nigeria mining sector received a boost at an investment roundtable held during the just-concluded Africa Downunder Conference in Perth, Australia.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Abdulkadir Mu’azu explained that the National Integrated Mineral Exploration Project (NIMEP) is a hallmark project that will provide reliable geo-sciences information need by investors to make the right mining investment decisions in Nigeria.
The importance of reliable geosciences information in the development of a country’s mining sector cannot be overemphasized, especially in emerging economies like Nigeria where government desires to diversify the economy by taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by the mining sector.
It could be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari assured that that his administration will take full advantage of the investment opportunities of the mining sector to diversify the economy.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Mu’azu Abdulkadir said it is in order to realise the set goal that the federal government embarked on the National Integrated Mineral Exploration Project, NIMEP which he said aims to explore the country in order to evolve reliable geosciences data that will be needed by prospective investors to make investment decisions in favor of Nigeria.
Dr Abdulkadir who spoke in Perth, Australia, called on global investors to take advantage of the reliable information that will be made available by the NIMEP, adding that investment decisions made on the basis of geosciences data provided by the NIMEP has high hope of yielding desired results.
While he explained that no country can become a global destination for mining investment without having to first generate accurate geo-sciences data and information for investors to take advantage of, he assured global investors that Nigeria is home to various solid mineral types, adding that the government has put in place investment-friendly laws that safeguard local and foreign investments.
The Permanent Secretary who explained that ‘although Nigeria is not yet recognized as a global mining destination,’ said the country is ‘committed to becoming a global mining destination,’ stating that it is in pursuit of the objective that the Buhari administration embarked on the NIMEP project.
He said the project will provide investors with accurate data they need to guide them in making diligent decisions for mining investments in Nigeria.
While saying that ‘oil and gas has been the mainstay of the Nigerian economy for fifty years,’ Dr Abdulkadir explained that the country has realised that it has a mining sector that wields enormous potentials to diversify the economy.
This he said is the reason why the Federal Government of Nigeria has become committed to putting in place relevant structures that will attract the much needed investors to the country’s mining sector.
‘Having realised that we must provide reliable geological data, the Buhari administration heavily invested in the ongoing solid minerals exploration project, an effort he said would put in place strategic necessities that will pave way for investment promotion in Nigeria.
While explaining that the task of mineral exploration may also be the responsibility of prospective investors, he explained that the federal government still decided to shoulder the task as a way of attracting investors to the sector.
He said: ‘For many years, Nigeria did not invest in exploration and we know that ultimately, those who own exploration licenses should be responsible for detailed exploration, but as a nation, we have committed to undertaking exploration activities that would create the necessary data for people to know and take interest in.’
‘For the first time in the history of Nigeria, government is embarking on an integrated exploration project that costs a lot of money in order to generate data on key strategic minerals,’ he said.
Dr Abdulkadir expressed optimism that at the completion of the project, Nigeria will take great pride in the ability to present prospective investors with geological data they need to make responsible decisions to invest in the Nigeria mining sector.
‘I am optimistic that there will be exciting findings that will make those interested in these minerals to come forward and invest in the mining sector,’ he added.
Dr Muazu debunked unfavorable perceptions about Nigeria saying: ‘We know how we are wrongly perceived, but l tell you that Nigeria is a great country that is willing and open for business.’
Addressing delegates at the conference, he said: ‘There are many people sitting here who have visited Nigeria. Prior to their visit, they were scared, but when they got to Nigeria, their perceptions changed because they discovered that Nigeria is a hospitable country.’
‘We are a great people and very vibrant. The few negative views does not reflect our nation, culture or values,’ the Permanent Secretary said.
Mu’azu, who led the Nigerian delegation to the conference, further explained that apart from the NIMEP project driven by the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency, NGSA, the mining cadastre system in Nigeria is also being enhanced for transparency and accountability.
‘The federal government of Nigeria is strengthening the capacity of the Mining Cadastre Office to ensure that licensing regime is transparent and accountable,’ he said, adding that both local and foreign investors are assured of the security of the tenure of their mining licenses and leases.
While saying that government is committed to developing guidelines that will ease the export of mineral resources to other countries, he disclosed that the ministry of mines and steel development is in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance, Trade and Investments and other relevant stakeholders to ensure the development of investment friendly framework for the sector.
‘We are viewing and reviewing mineral export guidelines that we believe can promote export of our commodities particularly minerals out of Nigeria,’ he added.
The Permanent Secretary further explained that Nigeria is also focusing on gold as a key mineral that has the capacity to develop the country’s minerals sector by setting up a very good national gold purchase policy.
The Director General, NGSA, Dr Abdulrazaq Garba said government embarked on NIMEP in order to provide bankable geosciences information for the investing public.
While saying that ‘Nigeria has a history of geological survey that is one hundred years old,’ the Director General recalled that the country lacked geoscience data, stating that the ongoing NIMEP Project is a show of government’s commitment to address the challenge.
‘Based on the need for geological data, the federal government in an effort to diversify the economy came up with a plan suitable for the industry.’
Dr Garba added that ‘the objective was to generate geosciences data in green fields and brown field setting using modern exploration technique,’ stating that the project is a conscious effort being made by government as a response to the investors’ demand for reliable data.