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FG Identifies 7 Strategic Minerals to Unlock Economy

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By THOMAS HUMPHREY

Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, on Thursday raised hope of a seamless recovery of the economy post COVID-19. He said the Federal Government had identified seven of the country’s strategic minerals to unlock the enormous potential in the mining sector.

Adegbite, who spoke in Abuja at a webinar organised by Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), listed the minerals to include: coal, iron ore, bitumen, gold, limestone, lead-zinc and barite, noting that the country was endowed with over 44 different mineral resources occurring in about 500 locations across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

“Seven of these minerals have been designated strategic to unlock the enormous potential in the sector; they are coal, iron ore, bitumen, gold, limestone, lead-zinc and barite. Alongside the seven strategic minerals, the ministry is also looking into key minerals to fuel the future. These include metals such as titanium, tungsten, lithium and cobalt, which have various applications in futuristic industries such as aerospace, telecoms and electric vehicle manufacturing”.

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The minister commended NESG for its efforts at mitigating the impact of coronavirus on the country’s economy, including the webinar organized to discuss the opportunities and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Nigerian mining industry, which he said, was timely.

He noted that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had been making efforts to diversify the economy from oil through the development of the mining and agricultural sectors, just as he said efforts were being fast-tracked to ensure that robust economic potential which would diversify the economy, create jobs and increase government revenue, was achieved through the mining sector.

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According to him, the Nigerian Mining Industry Roadmap formulated in 2016, highlights clear policy direction on how to develop the sector which is being improved upon to unlock the potential in the sector.

 “It is predicated on the principle that government serves as a regulator, providing an enabling environment for businesses to thrive. We are trying to stimulate mineral processing across the country using a cluster or hub approach.

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“Each cluster will be provided with road and power infrastructure to encourage investors in processing and refining equipment to support a network of miners and processors. In the longer term, the upgrade, completion, and operation of the Ajaokuta Steel Plant operations would enhance jobs and revenue generation. The project is based on a bilateral agreement between Nigeria and Russia, with funding from the Afreximbank and the Russian Export Centre”.

Adegbite expressed confidence that the country’s mining industry was on track to reach its goal of five per cent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contribution in the next five years.

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