Dr Uchechukwu Ogah, the Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, says Edo’s minerals can transform the nation’s economy, develop its infrastructure and grow the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Ogah made this known in a statement issued by the Director, Press and Public Relations, Mrs Etore Thomas, on Friday, in Abuja.
He stated this when he paid a courtesy call on the Governor of Edo, Mr Godwin Obasek, during a three day-working visit to the state.
The minister said that the purpose of the working visit to the state was critical and strategic in the development of the solid mineral sector, as the state had many untapped minerals.
According to him, if the minerals were properly harnessed, the state would achieve its “30-year Development Roadmap” in the areas of human capital development, educational transformation and health Improvement programmes.
“Improved service delivery systems, tax and revenue collection reforms, economic transformation initiatives through modern agriculture and industrialisation of the state.’’
The minister solicited the support and cooperation of the state government in accelerating the development of the huge commercial deposits of limestone, talc, dolomite, gypsum, feldspar, quartz, gold, gemstones, bentonite, bitumen, Kaolin, among others.
He noted that with the huge mineral deposits in Edo, the state could rank as the number two mining state in the country.
Ogah said the collaboration would increase revenue generation, promote sustainable growth of the mineral sector, create employment opportunities as well as provide economic empowerment for host mining communities, which could lead to poverty reduction in rural communities.
He noted that the present level of mining operations in the state could be doubled through mutual collaboration and cooperation between the federal, state, local government and mining investors.
The minister urged the governor to ensure that the new partnership between the ministry and the state government was sustained, to promote sustainable development of mineral resources in Edo.
In his remarks, Obaseki, said that the visit could not have come at a better time as the state was fully committed to diversification.
“Edo is blessed naturally and we have taken our destiny in our hands to diversify, focusing on solid minerals”.
He assured of the state’s readiness to collaborate on the development of its mineral sector.
On the side lines of the visit, Ogah commended stakeholders and operators for investing in the mining industry and creating job opportunities for many Nigerians.
He, however condemned in a very strong terms the use of the under-aged in mining, saying that under-aged miners should be reported to security agencies.
Ogah intimated the operators of government’s policy focus and enjoined them to make honest declaration of their monthly mineral production and pay the royalties due to the Federal government.
He encouraged operators to keep close contact with the Federal Mines Officers in the state and always seek clarification on any matter they were not clear about.
Also speaking, Mr Ethan Uzamere, the Edo state Commissioner, Ministry of Mining, Oil and Gas, said that the development of the mineral sector would bring strong economic benefits and peaceful coexistence to the people of the state.
He disclosed that the state was planning a workshop for miners where all issues regarding challenges would be addressed.
The Chairman, Edo State Miners Association of Nigeria, Mr Mike Okhumode, while enumerating the myriads challenges facing their daily operations, appealed to the Federal government to extend the same intervention given to the agricultural sector to them.
Also, the Coordinator, State’s Women in Mining, Mrs Uche Idodo, while reiterating the dangers of under-aged miners, called on the Federal government to intervene on double taxation being levelled against them.