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Nigeria Launches Decision Support System To Enhance Mining Sector, Boost Investment

Solid minerals minister Alake has asked the Senate for enhanced funding to boost detailed exploration of Nigeria’s mineral resources.

To boost ease of doing business in the mining sector, the federal government through the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development has launched the Nigeria Mineral Resources Decision Support System (NMDSS).

This comes just as the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dele Alake, on Tuesday, solicited the support of the Senate for increase in funding for the ministry in order to enhance its capacity to carry out detailed exploration of the nation’s vast mineral deposits.

However, at the launch of the NMDSS, Alake, stated that the portal underscored the commitment of the federal government to expanding access of prospective investors to necessary information about Nigeria’s mineral deposits, policies guiding the mining sector and incentives for investment from anywhere in the world.

The NMDSS is a marketing strategy to enhance the ease of doing business in the solid minerals sector.

Alake explained: “Before, if you are a prospective foreign investor, you have to travel to Nigeria with your contingent to access required information. But with this launch today, anywhere you are in the world, with a click of a button, you can access all the information you require to make informed investment decisions about the mining sector.”

Speaking further, Alake emphasised that the support system would assist critical stakeholders in the mining sector and potential investors to garner requisite information, bringing them closer to the industry and providing answers to pertinent questions about mineral deposits and mining infrastructure amongst others.

Highlighting on-going efforts to sanitise the mining sector, the Minister revealed that nefarious activities of illegal miners were being curbed by the recently unveiled mining marshals, whilst about 152 cooperatives had been formed by artisanal miners to legalise their operations, in line with his 7-point agenda.

In his remarks, the Minister of Interior, Hon. Tunji Olubunmi-Ojo, lauded the transformative leadership that his solid minerals counterpart had brought to bear on the mining sector, noting that the launch of the NMDSS was a game-changer that would attract more foreign investments.

“Saudi Arabia today has non-oil industry contributing of over 50 percent to her Gross Domestic Product (GDP). If Saudi Arabia can do it, Nigeria can do it and the journey starts with the ministry of solid minerals.

“With a workaholic and visionary minister like Dr. Alake, working earnestly to attract the big players and also supporting local operators, the sky is the starting point.

“For us in the Ministry of Interior, we are there to support because a reformed mining industry is the pivot of the Renewed Hope agenda, “Olubunmi-Ojo added.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Mary Ogbe, in her closing remarks, charged stakeholders in the mining sector and Nigerians at large to market the nation’s vast solid minerals potentials, stressing that reforms of the present administration are steadily repositioning the mining sector.

The NMDSS is a comprehensive software platform that serves as a one-stop shop for investors seeking credible and decisive information about Nigeria’s mineral resources, facilities and infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Alake has solicited the support of the Senate for increase in funding for the  ministry to enhance its capacity to carry out detailed exploration of the nation’s vast mineral deposits.

Speaking during the opening session of the investigative hearing of the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Alake identified the twin issues of poor funding for exploration and insecurity as the main challenges hampering the development of the mining sector whilst limiting its role as the pivot of diversification of the economy.

Alake, bemoaned the country’s low investment in mining exploration, revealing that a total of $2.5 million was invested last year, citing figures from Standard & Poor’s report.

Standard & Poor, a global rating agency, had ranked Nigeria’s exploration budget 12th in Africa and placed Ivory Coast in the top position with $147 million.

“When we compare the exploration budgets of other African countries with ours, it is depressing.  According to Standard & Poor, as of 2023, Nigeria’s investment in exploration was $2.5 million dollars against $147 million of Ivory Coast and $133 million of Congo.

“In our determination to compete, we had proposed a budget of N70 billion to invest in exploration that would cover the entire Nigerian landscape. Going by the budget of Year 2024, our capacity to move at our desired speed may be undermined. We need your support to fund exploration and kit our personnel to regulate the sector, “Alake asserted.

Highlighting efforts to combat illegal mining, the Minister informed the Senators about the recently unveiled 2,220-man strong Mining Marshals, with 60 operatives deployed in each state of the federation and the FCT.

According to the Minister, there are at least four categories of illegal miners: the unlicenced miners; licenced miners mining outside their Cadastral Units; licenced miners mining minerals different from what they are authorised to mine and miners mining with licences exclusively restricted to Nigerians. The country loses over $9 billion to illegal mining yearly, the Minister said.

Aside from the mining marshals representing the kinetic response to combat illegal mining, Alake revealed on-going advocacy through Artisanal and Small Miners (ASM) extension officers and the launch of a campaign on radio spanning at least 113 radio stations across the country that would not only discourage the menace, but also urged artisanal miners to form cooperatives and enjoy benefits of legalisation.

At the last count, 152 cooperatives had already been formed across the country, in line with the Minister’s 7-point Agenda.

In line with the new value addition policy of the Federal Government, Alake hinted at the imminent establishment of six more processing centres across the geo-political zones, stressing that efforts to effectively equip the mining marshal and other reforms of the ministry would require legislative backing for necessary statutes and improved funding.

Declaring the investigative hearing open, Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, lauded the Minister for personally attending the public hearing, noting that his presence indicated the commitment of the presidency to making solid minerals the fulcrum of diversification of the economy.

Akpabio, advocated concerted efforts by the executive and legislature to ensure resources frittered away through illegal mining and other nefarious activities are curtailed.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals Development, Senator Ekong Sampson, in his remarks stated that the 3-day investigative hearing was hinged on unravelling challenges hampering the development of the mining sector despite the vast mineral deposits across the country.

“We want to look at the challenges and see what we can do, together with the executive, to address these bottlenecks and ensure that solid minerals contribute substantially to our economy.

“Nigeria is blessed with vast mineral deposits. The time is now to harness these God-given resources for the benefit of all Nigerians,” Sampson added.

Folalumi Alaran 

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