The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr Uche Ogah, Monday lamented the lack of financial support from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for development of the solid mineral sector.
Ogah said this during a two-day public hearing organised by the senate committee on solid minerals, mines, steel development and metallurgy.
The public hearing was organised to derive the views of stakeholders on the preparations of four bills and an investigative motion for the solid minerals sector.
The bills discussed were the Nigerian Minerals Development Corporation (NMDC) Establishment Bill 2021; Solid Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission Establishment Bill 2021; Institute of Bitumen Management Establishment Bill 2021.
Others are the Explosive Act 1964 Repeal Re-enactment Bill 2021, and the urgent need to investigate the loss of $9 billion annually due to illegal mining and smuggling of gold.
Ogah said: “It is unfortunate that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) did not believe in us.
“If they believe in us, if they support us the way they are supporting agriculture, we will do wonders for this country.
“This is one ministry that is untapped, that is unknown but that can change the landscape of our revenue.
“Equally, we need to ask the Ministry of Finance to speed up the export policy on solid minerals because that is the only way to have operators into the sector”.
The minister, however, said the federal government has established processing plants for the solid minerals sector in all the six geopolitical zones which are currently under construction.
“We are going to have processing plants for gold, bauxite, among others, to establish the downstream sector of the mines and steel development and to ensure that there is processing in the sector.”
Ogah also asked the general public to get involved in checking the activities of intruders in the mining sub-sector.
Tanko Al Makura, chairman of the committee, said the bills were designed to accelerate the diversification of the economy from a mono-economy of oil to solid minerals.
According to Al Makura, the bills, when passed, would make the sector more attractive for investors given the abundance of solid minerals resources in all parts of the country.
He added that the the establishment of the NMDC would help address the issue of revenue required for infrastructure development, and also assist in creating employment and ultimately reduce poverty.