Governance of the Nigerian Mining Sector Remains a Major Obstacle to its Viability—NSME
Zainab Tanimu – Kaduna, NIGERIA
The Nigerian Society of Mining Engineers, (NSME) has called on the federal government to identify with its members as well as inaugurate its regulatory board COMEG in order to help drive the nation’s economy. The Mining Industry which could have been on the brink of a major turnaround it lamented had remained untapped despite abled hands it has produced. Saddening also is the fact that countries do not see Nigeria in the jurisdiction of mining industries. A situation the government needs to urgently address as the major obstacle bedeviling the sector lies in its governance.
This was made known to journalists by the President of the group, Engineer Dr. Ebenezer Damiso during a press conference held at the Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ) Secretariat.
According to the President, The right peg needs to be put in the right hole. The Council of Mining Engineer and Geo Scientists Board, (COMEG) a board saddled with the regulatory responsibility of professionals was dissolved when this administration came on board and up till today it has not been reconstituted. It strongly believes that if reconstituted and given its rightful place, investors would be encouraged to come and do business and the nation would begin to reap the dividend of its diversification which President Buhari has been looking forward to.
“COMEG was established through Act No, 40 of 1990 and was inaugurated on 12th September, 2000. We are concerned that a regulatory and monitoring body of the mining sector has been left in a state of lethargy for over two years now. Some mining firms who would have been operating in the sector have been hampered. It is very disheartening that such an important body that regulates professionals and firms in the Nigerian mining sector has not had its Board inaugurated since the inception of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.” He said.
Dr. Ebenezer Damiso explaining Some of the objectives of NSME as enshrined in our Constitution said aside the bringing together of all the Mining and Mineral Processing Engineers in Nigeria as members of the Society, it is to advance the science and practice of engineering in the fields of mining and mineral processing including that of presenting to the Government the views of the Society on any legislative enactment or proposed legislation or any other subject(s) of concern or interest to the Society in Nigeria”.
The under-performance in recent times he has attributed to that of governance. This has been identified as a major obstacle to the optimal development of our solid mineral assets.
“Many of our state governments have not given the much desired cooperation to the Federal authorities in the area of investment”.
He urged the Federal Government to consider the issues so that the Nigerian mining industry can play the roles expected of it especially in the diversification of the Nigerian economy and providing employment opportunities for our youths.
He is optimistic that all issues militating against the operationalization of Nigerian industrialization entities are not beyond President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to resolve.
“We urge the Federal Government under the able leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari to do everything it can, to put into operation the Ajaokuta Steel Plant, as this will bring about rapid industrialization in the country and many mines will come on stream to provide mineral raw materials such as iron ore, coking coal, dolomite, magnetite, limestone as feedstock to the Ajaokuta Steel Plant”.
He blamed the comatose state of the plant on lack of political will by the government to complete the plant and bring it on stream.
“The steel sector cannot succeed without a viable mining sector. With regard to employment, one million tons per year steel plant in a country like Nigeria would need to forge the specialized and not so specialized skills and knowledge of not less than 10,000 workforces. Surely, this is a big incentive to make the Ajaokuta Steel plant functional.” He said.
However, renewed efforts will need to be sustained for many years if the country’s potential as a major mineral producer is to be met.
Engineer Dr. Lukman Salati, speaking to news reservoir in a brief interview on what the government stands to benefit if the regulatory body, COMEG comes to stay says,
“It’s high time the government inaugurates the Nigerian Mining Board so that the Nigerian Mining industry can move forward.
One of the problems is that the mining engineers are not able to practice their profession. Some of the upcoming mining engineers are good examples, they have not got their certificates talk less of being given the license to practice. As this is happening government is losing a lot of revenue because these mining engineers are supposed to pay their annual dues which go to the government.
The mining firms too are also supposed to pay the government. Who is going to collect these annual dues when the government has not inaugurated the council? It means the government would continue to lose a lot of revenue.
The professional engineers who have been on the waiting list, once they are issued their certificates of practice, the issue of illegal mining would become a thing of the past. The nation would begin to generate more money because a lot of resources have been going down the drain as a result of the activities of the illegal miners.
The resolutions at the just concluded General Meeting/Conference with the theme, “Unlocking the Investment Opportunities in Nigeria Mining Sector” held from 7th -9th November 2017 at Assa Pyramid Kaduna which was signed by both the President, Dr. Ebenezer Aliyu and the Secretary General, Engr. Umar Hassan was read thus:
- That the Society notes with delight and commends the Federal Government for the diversification policy from mono-economy and focusing on mining and agriculture for a better economic base.
- That the requirement for Mining Lease Holders to employ Mining Engineers to serve as Technical Supervisors for Mining Operations as provided in Section 73 of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act,2007 be enforced.
- That Government should encourage professionalism in the sector by appointing professionals to Professional Positions in line with statutory guidelines.
- That serious attention is given to the training of mining professionals on the production of bankable feasibility reports on mining projects to facilitate access of available funding windows for mining projects.
- That the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development should facilitate collaboration between mining industry operators, the academia and government to promote the use of research findings.
- That mining sector operators are encouraged to add value to their mineral commodity products before export to facilitate maximum economic benefits to the nation.
- That the efforts of government at providing single digit loan facility to the mining sector from the Mineral Resources Development Fund are highly commended. The continued annual releases of the sector’s share of the fund to the Solid Minerals Development Fund (SMDF) for continued sustainable development and exploitation of the nation’s mineral endowment thereby diversifying the economy was advocated.
- That government should continue with its formalization of the Artisanal and Small Scale Mining Operation as well as the Extension Service delivery to facilitate improved mineral productivity and safe mining and mineral processing operations with minimal health and environmental hazards.
- That Government should continue the promotion of strategic partnership between the local and international mining companies for sustainable development and exploitation of the nation’s mineral endowment.
The Conference attracted participants from Government, Academia and Industry.