Nigeria plans to establish a solid minerals corporation to manage its minerals and provide funding in the mining sector.
The minister of solid minerals, Dele Alake, told a press conference on Sunday that the company will have subsidiaries doing business in gold, coal, limestone, bitumen, lead, iron ore, and baryte.
“Mining is big business,” Alake said.
“Nigeria must assert its presence in this environment by replicating its strategic positioning in the petroleum sector by setting up a corporate body that plays in this field.
“Consequently, the ministry shall work towards the incorporation of the Nigerian Solid Minerals Corporation.
“This is a corporate body that will have subsidiaries doing business in the seven priority areas that require immediate intervention and focus: gold, coal, limestone, bitumen, lead, iron ore, and baryte.
“Existing enterprises such as the National Iron-Ore Company, and ongoing arrangements, such as the Bitumen Concessioning Programme, will be reviewed to fit into this new system.
The solid minerals corporation will be similar to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, the state oil company through which the government invests in the oil industry.
“The proposed corporation will seek and secure partnership investment agreements with big multinational companies worldwide to leverage the attractive investment-friendly regime operating in the country to secure massive foreign direct investment for the mining sector,” Alake told the news conference.
“The positioning of the national corporation as a guarantor and protector of the partnership agreements is expected to assure partners of our seriousness and fidelity.
“Similarly, the solid minerals corporation will provide robust support for Nigerian businessmen seeking funding abroad and help to authenticate their investment proposals to speed up the commitment of their partners to invest.”
Alake is targeting a 50 percent addition to Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) from solid minerals. A report by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) puts the sector’s current contribution to GDP at less than one percent.
Crackdown on Illegal Mining
At the press conference on Sunday, the minister issued a 30-day ultimatum to illegal miners to join mining cooperatives or risk prosecution.
He also unveiled a plan to set up a surveillance task force to secure the mines in the country. The force will become active in October, he said.
Nigeria loses at least $500 million annually to illegal gold mining and smuggling, according to experts familiar with the sector.
Some analysts say the country could be losing more.