In an exclusive interview with African Review, Abubakar Bawa Bwari, Minister of State, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Nigeria, talks about changing the perception of the country towards becoming a mining destination and the importance of including artisanal miners in the sector going forward
Nigeria is open for mining. Lessons have been learned from the past in the oil and gas sector, now the time has come to take advantage of the vast downstream and upstream mining opportunities, explained Abubakar Bawa Bwari, Minister of State, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Nigeria.
But investment in the sector is still desperately needed to meet the government’s bold target to increase mining from 0.3 per cent of the country’s GDP to seven per cent by 2025. “We have to pursue this target aggressively in order to achieve it, so there’s no going back on achieving diversification,” Bwari added.
And even if the oil price continues to rise, he asserted that “we have learned our mistakes” and it will be to “our advantage” to use the money to invest in and provide an infrastructure that will support mining and agriculture.
“The perception of Nigeria being an oil and gas destination should change, The government has put in place all the necessary regulations to support mining to make the mining environment-friendly. We’ve improved our infrastructure to encourage mining. Our laws are good and can be compared to any other mining jurisdiction as they are very competitive. The population is there and labour is cheap,” he stated.
Among the favourable policies implemented by the government is the statutorily guaranteed three-year tax-free holiday for new investors in the sector, 100 per cent ownership of mining projects for foreign investors and the removal of import duties on mining equipment brought into the country.
Additionally, the government has launched a roadmap to develop industrial mineral raw materials for local and export markets and to make Nigeria self-sufficient in the construction industry. Advances in geophysical surveying and geo-information sharing have also enabled mining opportunities to become clearer across the country.
Nigeria has 44 mineral types with some of the highest grades of minerals anywhere in the world – and mining companies are already taking advantage of the rich resources available.
Australian firm Symbol Mining/Goidal Resources is mining lead-zinc ore with a grading of 22 per cent zinc in the northeastern region compared to the global average of six per cent zinc. Similarly, Kogi Iron in the North Central has developed a process route that can produce viable iron ore concentrate from their high phosphorus iron ore deposit for the production of high-quality steel.
The minister said this proves that similar iron ore sites in the country can be harnessed to produce steel products locally.
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