Alhaji Abubakar Bwari, the Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, says that mining sector in Nigeria has not seen commensurate development due to insufficient data on geosciences.
Bwari made this known while inaugurating the Integrated Exploration Project of the Ministry on Thursday in Abuja.
According to him, insufficient geosciences data is responsible for the decline in the mining sector contribution to the Gross Domestic Products, saying that the sector contributed “paltry 0.35 per cent” the Gross Domestic Product.
He said: “This is an unhealthy situation that makes our country economy particularly vulnerable.
“President Muhammadu Buhari’s determination to reverse this trend gave rise to the economic diversification agenda, anchored primarily on mining and agriculture sectors.
“There is no doubt that a well-developed mining sector can easily catalyse Nigeria’s industrial revolution through import substitution and address youth unemployment, poverty and insecurity.”
Bwari said the present administration in the country was determined to reposition the mining sector by increasing its contribution to the GDP from 0.35 per cent to 8.4 per cent by 2020.
He said that the percentage was the target set by the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan for the ministry.
The minister said the inauguration of the project was long overdue, but expressed optimism that its success would be critical in determining how far government could go in its efforts to reposition the sector.
He said: “We expect maximum commitment in the execution of this project, because a lot is at stake.’’
The minister said following the policies laid down in the mining roadmap to help actualise the government diversification agenda, the ministry intended to advance the use of different mineral commodities in many ways.
According to him, industrial minerals will be used for local consumption and import substitution; metallic minerals for generating foreign exchange and energy minerals for power generation toward the national growth and sustainable development.
He said: “The credibility of this ministry as well as the seriousness with which international community will evaluate our effort at becoming a viable mining jurisdiction will depend on the way we handle this critical project.”
He urged the contractors and consultants handling the project to strictly adhere to the job specifications and contractual agreements stipulated in the term of engagement and ensure adequate usage of local expertise to enhance the success of the project.
Contributing, Dr Abubakar Muazu, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, said that the project was the first of its kind in the history of the ministry.
Muazu said: “This project will not only be monitored in Nigeria, but also all over the world because of its importance, we are expected to deliver according to international best practices.”
Alex Nwegbu, the Director-General, Nigeria Geological Survey Agency, said the urgent need to address the data deficit in the mining sector necessitated the project.
Nwegbu said that President Buhari, desirous of improving the sector contribution to the GDP, approved N30 billion intervention fund as enabler of the project.
He said the ministry had selected some strategic mineral commodities such as gol, pegmatite, tantalite, barytes, iron among others for the implementation of the project.