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Mineral deposits: FG in discussion with states — minister

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The Federal Government says  it is discussing with states governments to ensure a win-win situation between both parties in areas with  minerals deposits.

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite said this at an interactive session on Tuesday in Lagos.

According to him, the engagement is part of efforts to ensure that investors that come into the country are not faced with multiple barriers after being licenced by the Federal Government to do business in the mining sector.

The minister said that such multiple barriers which discouraged investors, were being addressed, stressing “we need to put our house in order’’

Adegbite said that though mining was in the exclusive list, some state governors were trying to take advantage of the minerals discovered in their states to grow their revenue base without following due process.

He said that the Federal  Government was engaging such governors for them to know that it was better to let the funds from such minerals come into the federation account so they could benefit through the 13 per cent derivation fund, which some were already benefiting from.

The minister said the Federal Government was addressing concerns of some states on the matter, adding that they could for now, participate only through corporate companies, which would seek licences from the Federal Government to go into minerals exploration.

“It is a work in progress,’’ he said, adding that the federal, states and local governments must work together to encourage smooth operation by investors in the sector.”

The minister said that Nigeria must prepare for the big players in the sector who would be coming in as the nation’s potential was being sold to the outside world.

“The world is looking away from fossil fuel, talking of climate change, it is warming up and everybody is looking elsewhere.

“Some countries have set targets in the near future when they will  ban fossil fuel vehicles, so all vehicles you will find will be electric cars, so Nigeria needs to prepare well ahead of time for this,’’ he said.

Adegbite said there would be a time when oil would no longer be attractive, hence the need to solidify in areas of mining and also agriculture.

He said that all over the world, investors were aware of the potential of Nigeria in mining but wanted to be sure that when they come in, they will be able to get value for their money.

The minister said the government had put in a lot of strategies to derisk the sector, including the  National Integrated Mineral Exploration Project (NIMEP), to provide reliable geo-sciences information needed by investors to make the right mining investment decisions in Nigeria.

He said that seven strategic minerals were being projected to encourage investors and data on them made available.

“It started before I came, but we are looking at first quarter to get the final results,’’ he said, explaining that such data would attract  investors.

He said Nigeria would also benefit from lithium, which would be needed with the advent of electric cars as lithium batteries would be highly attractive.

The minister said the ministry had issued two licences for refining gold in Mowe, Ogun and Abuja, for sale anywhere in the world

Adegbite said that a Canadian company operating in the Segolola Gold Project in Osun State was also working to start exporting gold from Nigeria by first quarter of 2021.

He said that a Federal  Government directive for Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to also buy gold in Nigeria would also encourage development in the mining industry.

The minister also shed more light on plans by the Russian government to support Nigeria on completing the Ajaokuta steel project, stating the MoU would likely be concluded by the end of this month.

He said under the government to government agreement, it would be financed by the African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim Bank) and the Russian Export Centre, its Russian counterpart, and the plant will pay back by itself when it begins operation.

According to him, it will be operated by the investors for some years to be agreed upon and then handed over to Nigeria.

Edited by: Ese E. Ekama

Oluwole Sogunle: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

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