Mr Dasuki Arabi, the Director- General, Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR), says the Federal Government will further boost the solid minerals sector to diversify the nation’s economy.
Arabi made this known during the lunch time reform seminar featuring the Executive Secretary Solid Minerals Development Fund (SMDF), Hajiya Fatima Umaru-Shinkafi, on Tuesday in Abuja.
According to him, the diversification becomes necessary in view of the nation’s ailing economy.
He said the Federal Government is making concerted efforts to take control of all mining activities in the country and keep proper record of the exploration of the country’s solid minerals.
“We are looking at all the ways through which the solid minerals development fund can be channelled into job creation.
“One of such ways is to bring together local miners from across the federation to engage them in meaningful conversations on how they can be assisted to expand their mining activities.
“If local mining is expanded, there definitely would be more jobs for a large chunk of the unemployed youthful population of Nigeria,’’ he added.
Arabi said Nigeria must get down to exploring all its solid mineral resources and ensure that they are exchanged for their real monetary value.
He noted that Nigeria’s mineral resources, both solid and liquid, were some of the best in the world, and should as such, amount to real monetary value for the country.
Arabi, however, said that accountability and transparency ought to be strictly applied in keeping proper record of the exploration and exchange of the country’s solid minerals resources.
“ This will help to curb the spate of financial recklessness that has for long, being the order of the day in this country.
“ Then proper attention must be paid to issues like the diversification of the country’s economy so that non-oil revenue generators are also prioritized to the end that there is maximum yield of revenue across the economic landscape.
“ Nigeria is rich in solid minerals such as gold, iron ore, tin, marble, gypsum, lithium, silver, granite, gemstones, bentonite, iron ore and talc.
“As of today, not even up to a quarter of these precious solid mineral deposits, have been mined.
“We are aware that gold is abundant in Zamfara and Osun States, but there aren’t any substantial records on the mining of the precious metal in these states and in other states where it is found,’’ he said.
He added that gold deposits had been found in many states including Cross River, Edo, Niger, Sokoto, Oyo, Kogi, Kaduna, Abia, Bauchi, and Abuja.
According to him, the biggest challenge with exploring the gold and developing a standard gold industry is the absence of appropriate data on the quantum of the deposits.
The director-general expressed optimism that the challenges would soon give way for proper mining and exploration of the country’s solid minerals.
“Whenever we look back to the times past, we see the need to refurbish our solid mineral industry.
“Back then, Nigeria used to produce up to 1.4 tons of gold annually, and that accounted for a large chunk of the country’s revenue and GDP.
“But today, the solid minerals industry can only boast of 0.3 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.
“It is in view of these staggering realities that the proactive Buhari-led administration is taking giant strides in revamping the solid minerals sector.”
In her presentation, Umaru-Shinkafi, Executive Secretary SMDF, said Nigeria was a natural investment destination and the agency has been structured to synergies with investors.
“We are here to promote private sector-led investments, although we do have a social investment angle to the fund, we need to be innovative with regards to finance.
“I can see collaborative opportunities, interesting times. We are active in the sector and there are still a lot of projects coming on-stream,” she said.
She said it was important for the private and public sectors to move in the same direction.
“We see opportunities in long-term private equity projects in the SME value chain in the mineral sector in Nigeria.
“In spite of subdued private investments in the gold sector and the absence of an operating gold mine, Nigeria’s artisanal gold production has almost doubled since 2015.
“To date, Nigeria accounts for just two per cent of the total gold production volumes in Africa with an estimated 854 tons.
“There is huge opportunity for growth there,” the SMDF executive director said.
The theme of the seminar is “ The role and contribution of solid minerals development fund in job creation and diversification of the Nigerian economy.’’
The mandate of the SMDF is to spur the development of Nigeria’s mining sector by undertaking targeted sustainable, profit-oriented investments and interventions in key areas.
It is also to work closely with stakeholders in the sector to achieve set targets.