Two foreign banks have agreed to provide $600 million to fund an integrated iron and steel plant being constructed in Kagarko, in Kaduna State.
Alhaji Abubakar Bwari, the out-going Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development disclosed this while handing over to the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr Abdulkhadir Mu’azu in Abuja.
Bwari said that the integrated iron and steel plant being constructed by the African Natural Resources and Mines Ltd. had the capacity to produce 5.4 metric tonnes of steel per annum and also generate 3,500 direct jobs.
He said that before the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration the sector was moribund due to many years of neglect.
The minister of state listed some of the challenges faced in November 2015 when the present administration came on board to include insufficient funding, and weak institutional capacity of the supervising ministry among others.
“We inherited low productivity, illegal mining, community challenges, weak ease of doing business and perception issues and protracted litigation on legacy assets.
“We have since worked very hard to change this narrative to fulfil our mandate which includes increasing the revenue generated from the sector and its contribution to national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“We have also created jobs for our youth population by broadening the range of opportunities available for them and promoting sustainable mining practices.
“We had a robust process of consultation with stakeholders, we were able to produce a Roadmap for the sector that was approved by the Federal Executive Council on August 2016,” he said.
He added that the roadmap developed provided strategic direction for solving the issues through initiatives that would last from 2015 – 2025.
Bwari said that in less than four years, the ministry recorded some major achievements which included blocking revenue leakages, increased sector funding, producing more accurate geoscience data through world class exploration projects.
Others are, improving job opportunities in the sector while developing the downstream sector, and regulating the sector effectively to make sure standard practices were adhered to.
He said in the last few years, the ministry had succeeded in attracting junior mining companies into the sector which had increased the investment portfolios of the country.
According to Bwari, about 50 of these companies are doing formal mining in various parts of the country.
“One of those companies is Symbol Mining from Australia which is presently exporting zinc from its open pit mine in Bauchi where the ore is confirmed to be 22 per cent as compared to the global average of six per cent.”
According to him, there are some unfulfilled dreams, so we are not there yet; the world of mining is a very scientific one and knowledge is critical to the growth of the sector.
“As regulators of the sector, you must continuously train and retrain yourselves to become experts in your fields so that you can continue to set the agenda for the industry.
“I am confident that as professionals, you have the ability to turn the fortunes of the minerals and metals sector around, but you must brace up and stop playing second fiddle.
“We have laid a solid foundation for the sector and it is now left for you to build on our successes. I want to urge you as management and staff of this ministry to keep the momentum going.
“The measure of confidence that investors will have in your laws, programmes and policies will depend largely on the respect they have for the integrity of your processes.
“It is that respect that will eventually lead them to commit huge resources to invest in the sector.”
“We have been able to leave a legacy of hardwork, transparency and commitment to the ideals of sustainable mining for shared mining prosperity.
“I urge you all to continue to work very hard to make this sector a success so that Nigeria’s hope for economic diversification through the solid mineral sector will be accomplished.
He commended the permanent secretary for his support and commitment to the sector.
“I want to thank all our stakeholders and some very special people without whom this job could not have been possible.
“I assumed this ministry with His Excellency, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, now the Governor of Ekiti State, and Chairman of the Nigeria Governor’s Forum. I owe him a debt of gratitude for his support and constant encouragement”, he stated further.
Dr Mu’azu, the permanent secretary described the outgoing minister of state as a humble and committed fellow that had contributed immensely to the development of the sector.