North has potential to be global mining destination – Fayemi

North has potential to be global mining destination – Fayemi

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//Godwin Ekosin, Kaduna//

As Federal Government of Nigeria holds its second town hall meeting in Kaduna today, Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr. Kayode Fayemi has revealed that, with 70% of Nigerian metallic mineral deposits located in Northern Nigeria, the region has the potential to become global mining destination.

He however assured that President Buhari’s administration will ensure that all the metallic mineral deposits are tapped for national economic growth.

Addressing the town hall meeting organised by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Dr. Fayemi said, with a huge deposit of gold in Kaduna, tin and columbite in Jos, lead in Zamfara state, sapphire, emerald, tantalite among others located in other parts of the region, Nigeria needs commitment, determination and resilience for the country to realise it’s full potential in solid minerals.

According the Minister, there was however the need to formalise the sector, register them, organise them into cooperative societies for easier financing.

“We are endowed with resources, the challenges is often persecution and trust. We can be mining destination with determination, commitment and resilience. The key challenge is organising the sector in a way that the people will get social benefits . Over 5 million Nigerians are involved in mining informally, they don’t have license but we can organise them to be useful to themselves and to the country.

“We can formalise them, organise them into cooperative, empower them through capacity building and finance them. The quantity, quality and  commercial viability of our endowment, we have gold in abundance in Kaduna but we still need to do more exploration in the state in partnership with the state government.

“Mining is capital intensive business, we are working with Bank of Industry and commercial banks to provide intervention fund to develop those involved in the business. Nigeria spends less than other neighbouring countries on exploration. Burkina Faso spend $50 million on exploration annually, while Nigeria spends $300, 000 annually. Our mineral resources must work for Nigerians to generate revenue and create jobs.”

Earlier in his opening remarks, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said that the Town Hall Meeting, which was the second in the series was part of the concept of participatory democracy “for the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to give account of its stewardship since coming into office on May 29th 2015. This is the right thing to do because we entered into a contract with you during electioneering campaign to do certain things, and it is only right that we let you know how we have fared since we assumed office.”

On insecurity, corruption and economy, Lai Mohammed said the Buhari administration has crushed the Boko Haram insurgents, limiting it to soft targets, it is routing out corrupt personalities, whose practices have had negative impact on the people, and is bringing back the economy from the doldrums.

According to him, “But let me focus on the administration’s strategy to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty. We plan to do this through six social intervention areas that will greatly impact on the economy as well as on lives: 500,000 graduates are to be employed and trained as teachers, 370,000 non-graduates (artisans, technicians) to be trained and employed, 1 million people (farmers, market women, etc) to be granted loans to set up small businesses.

“Conditional cash transfer to be made to the most vulnerable people (not unemployed graduates), school feeding targeting 4.5 million school children, and bursaries/scholarships for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) students,” the Minister said.

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