Recently, the Minister of Solid Minerals Development Dr Kayode Fayemi, gave a worrisome content summary of the strategic initiatives of the ministry, though the country is abundantly blessed with so much of Solid minerals.
He told the audience at a stakeholders meeting held in Guma Local Government Area of Benue State, that the Federal Government could ban the importation of certain minerals it considers high priority.
These minerals are limestone, barites, iron, bitumen, lead and zinc. He hoped that the ban, if implemented, would help stimulate the local mining industry.
Information at our disposal and possibly well known to all the stakeholders is that Nigeria’s solid minerals industry has not been developed to a level competitive enough to make a ban effective. We believe this should be addressed by the government rather than recourse to fiat in a global market system.
The offer of duty free importation on all mining equipment, as well as the tax holiday which the minister claimed to be the best in the world appears to be begging the question since these incentives have never moved the sector forward.
The ministry needs to be more strategic in identifying the sector’s problems and designing the solution to fit the uniqueness of Nigeria’s environment and society.
The other issue of concern is the numbers reeled out on the mineral deposits as well as the government’s priorities. Fayemi told the audience that there are 40 minerals in the country, out of which the ministry has selected seven strategic ones for concentration.
Meanwhile the Raw Materials Research and Development Council, is counting hundreds of mineral deposits. A proper identification of the nation’s natural endowments needs to be done to guide the Federal Government in determining informed priorities.
The minister was worried that Benue, Nasarawa and Cross River states have large quantities of barytes to satisfy the needs of the oil and gas companies. But the issue has been that the country’s solid mineral industry is yet to be globally competitive in terms of quality and cost.