The Federal Government has selected seven of the country’s strategic minerals to release the potential in the mining sector. This is according to the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite.

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According to the News Agency of Nigeria, the Minister said this on Thursday in Abuja at a webinar organised by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group.

Adegbite identified the minerals as coal, iron ore, bitumen, gold, limestone, lead-zinc and barite.

He remarked that the country was enriched with over 44 different mineral resources in over 500 locations across the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory.

The Minister said, “Seven of these minerals have been designated strategic to unlock the enormous potential in the sector. They are coal, iron ore, bitumen, gold, limestone, lead-zinc and barite.

“Alongside the seven strategic minerals, the ministry is also looking into key minerals to fuel the future.

“These include metals such as titanium, tungsten, lithium and cobalt, which have various applications in futuristic industries such as aerospace, telecoms and electric vehicle manufacturing.”

He praised the NESG for the effort it had put in to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the country’s economy.

The Minister stated that the webinar which was to discuss the opportunities and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Nigerian mining industry was convenient.

He noted that the double-ended shock of the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent sharp decline in oil prices had led to a revenue shortfall for the country.

Adegbite added that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had been making endeavours to diversify the economy from oil through the development of the mining and agricultural sectors.

He said these endeavours were being fast-tracked, adding that mining offered a robust economic potential to diversify the economy, create jobs and increase government revenue.

According to him, the Nigerian Mining Industry Roadmap formulated in 2016 highlights a clear policy direction on how to develop the sector which is being improved upon to unlock the potential in the sector.

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He added that structural reforms embarked upon in the industry were geared towards supporting the emergence of a vibrant private sector and to stimulate resource-based industrialisation.

Adegbite said, “It is predicated on the principle that government serves as a regulator, providing an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

“We are trying to stimulate mineral processing across the country using a cluster or hub approach.

“Each cluster will be provided with road and power infrastructure to encourage investors in processing and refining equipment to support a network of miners and processors.”

He added, “In the longer term, the upgrade, completion, and operation of the Ajaokuta Steel Plant operations would enhance jobs and revenue generation.

“The project is based on a bilateral agreement between Nigeria and Russia, with funding from the Afreximbank and the Russian Export Centre.”

He listed other ongoing initiatives to stimulate the growth of the industry to include working with several stakeholders to design mining-specific and credit enhancement instruments.

Adegbite expressed confidence that the country’s mining industry was on track to reach its goal of five per cent Gross Domestic Product contribution in the next five years.