Mining: Government should force investors to build processing plants in Nigeria

Nigeria Metallurgical Development Center (NMDC) Director-General Jos, Plateau State Professor Linus Asuquo has called on the federal government to ban the export of Nigerian mineral resources as primary products, saying that with this practice the country earns very little income from theirs natural facilities.

Prof Asuquo called on the government to mandate investors in Nigeria’s mining sector to set up processing plants in Nigeria so they can export the minerals as finished products, adding that this is the only way the country can generate revenue from its mineral deposits can maximize.

He made the remark while addressing journalists during the first-ever solid minerals trade fair, titled MINEXPO 2023, organized by the Nigerian-Israeli Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, held in Abuja on January 26-27.

The NMDC DG commended Minister for Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Omilekan Adegbite for telling foreign investors interested in Nigeria’s lithium deposits that they need to set up their processing facilities in the country.

In his opinion, processing the raw products before exporting them increases their value significantly, which in addition to creating greater foreign exchange for the country also leads to the creation of jobs for the young people, among other economic spin-offs such as developing infrastructure and passing on skills in the affected communities.

He also claimed that unless Nigeria invests in its solid minerals, the future is bleak and that without the activation of the Ajaokuta Steel Plant, the country will not make any progress in its quest for industrialization, despite acknowledging the lack of political will among the country’s leadership blamed underperformance in the mining sector.

Asuquo, who presented a paper on the event’s theme – The Role of the Organized Private Sector in Achieving Sustainable and Inclusive Economic Growth and Development through Solid Minerals – pointed out that revenue from the solid minerals sector has contributed to the country’s GDP over the course of The time has gone back years since the colonial and post-colonial era, when tin and coal were among the highest sources of income in Nigeria.

He presented a table showing mining revenues from 2014, which were N2.23 billion in 2014 and N3.73 billion in 2018, rising to N11.29 billion in 2022, but what for South Africa, which had a GDP, faded from N5.5 trillion in 2022 from mining in 2022.

Prof. Asuquo further noted that Nigeria has the lowest value from mining among African countries at just 0.5 percent to GDP, while Botswana has the highest value at 38 percent, adding that Nigeria has 44 mineral deposits confirmed by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), , the industry is expected to exceed the meager 0.5 percent.

The DG stressed that the organized private sector (OPS) has a crucial role to play in the country’s economy, particularly in the mining industry.

He said, “The organized private sector needs to face the situation and invest in Nigeria’s solid minerals, particularly solid minerals such as lithium ores that are powering the global economy in lithium battery production discovered in Nigeria.”

He added that the world needs iron ore and that Nigeria was laying idle huge deposits of iron ore, with proven reserves of over 3 billion tons.

Professor Ibrahim Garba of the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMI) and former Vice-Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, who also spoke at the event, said political inconsistencies due to constant leadership changes in the ministry did not help the matter, adding that the government must ensure that business can be conducted smoothly in order for the mining industry to grow.

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