‘Why Nigeria isn’t making fortunes from mining’

Afrimat mining photo

The Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Kaduna State branch, on Tuesday, rose from its quarterly review meeting, explaining why Nigeria has not been making fortunes from its abundant natural resources over the years, especially in mining sector.

Among others, the engineers believed that Nigeria got it all wrong around 1972 with indigenisation policy that stipulated sharing of whatever accrued from mining between the investors and the indigene of the area, which forced foreign investors to move to other countries assessed as more business friendly.

But, they were quick to expressed optimism that government is now doing a lot in this direction by way of reviewing its laws on mining and making the environment more friendly.

On the other hand, stakeholders in the mining sector have been charged to cooperate with governments at all levels to check illegal mining activities in the country.

The Ogun State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Otunba Bimbo Ashiru, stated this at the Biennial Sand Mining Stakeholder’s forum by West African Pipeline Company Limited, in Abeokuta.

Ashiru, who said the call had become necessary in view of the danger posed by the activities of the illegal miners to the people and environment, warned that the state would now apply the full weight of law against erring sand miners, with a five-year jail term or N20 million fine or both in the offing.

The keynote speaker at the meeting of the engineers, Ben Nwode, extensively spoke on the need for every project to be assessed as it concerns surface mining, noting that Nigeria is loaded with a lot of resources, which are yet to be tapped into in huge commercial quantity even though mining is international business that has long gestation period.

“However, we are faced with some challenges. For example, we have shortage of manpower. In Nigeria, we have only two universities that offer mining as a course: Federal University of Akure and University of Jos that started few years ago. Luckily we now have Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria that is starting next session. Although we have Kaduna Polytechnic and a few others offering the course.

“We don’t also have plant to process what we explore into finish goods. So, we are selling our resources raw which has not help us to maximise our fortunes in mining. What this means is that, government need to support people who can process either finish or semi-finish goods.

“Then, discovery of petroleum in commercial quantity also dragged our mining strength backward. Also, metal market that collapsed sometimes ago as well as inadequate mining infrastructure and expertise are partly responsible for our predicament,” he said.

The Chairman of Kaduna branch of NSE, Dr. Abdulrasheed Babalola, noted that environmental impact assessment is relevant to engineers because before any infrastructural development could be initiated, it is important to assess both animals and environment.

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