Nigeria can earn $12m annually from minerals, says Chamber

• Seeks NEPZA cooperation for minerals export processing zones

The Nigeria Chamber of Mines (NCOM), has revealed that the country can earn as much as $12million yearly from the Solid Minerals sector if properly harnessed and developed.

“I wish to observe that Nigeria is blessed with different categories of solid /industrial minerals such as kaolin, limestone, dolomite, gypsum, and metal minerals like tin, columbite, tantalite, iron ore, lead/zinc, precious stones such as tourmaline, sapphire, garnet, topaz, and aquamarine,” among others.

The Chamber however noted that while some of these minerals are export-based, they are only processed for end-use through a complex manufacturing process which the country does not have the local capacity for at the moment.

The President of NCOM, Sani Shehu, in a presentation during an interactive session between the Chamber and the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), in Abuja, therefore sought the Authority’s support for the creation of Minerals Export Processing Zone (MEPZ).

He said that this will help build a properly-structured minerals export zone, which will attract both indigenous and foreign investors.

Shehu said: “This is in line with the government’s aspiration of economic diversification through mining, and will serve as a catalyst for the sustainable mineral export initiative in Nigeria. Also, the establishment of a Minerals Export Processing Zone will create massive employment for the citizenry and sustainable income for the government.”

He remarked that the proposed Minerals Zone will equally make Nigeria the preferred destination for mining, processing and export of solid minerals in the world, stressing that, “The Nigerian Chamber of mines is ready to collaborate with NEPZA to achieve this dream.”

In his address, the Managing Director of NEPZA, Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, said all hands must be on deck to help the Nigerian Government to remain an economic powerhouse in Africa, by ensuring the diversification of the economy away from over-dependence on oil and gas through deliberate steps towards developing the Solid Minerals sector.

Adesugba explained that like the Free Trade Zone (FTZ) scheme, the solid minerals sector has the capacity to provide Nigeria a long term economic safety net, as all the 36 states, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), is endowed with at least one form of commercially-viable mineral deposit.

He said: “The Nigeria Chamber of Mining and EPZA could form a partnership that could lead to the establishment of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) for Solid minerals in the shortest possible time. This would be in line with President Buhari’s renewed vigour towards a holistic and coordinated exploration of mineral deposits for maximum contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).”

He noted that the government’s position is to ultimately deepen its collaborative efforts with relevant stakeholders, especially the private sector, in the quest to develop the sector for significant revenue generation for the country. “So, this is an invitation for us to leverage on.”

He continued, “This partnership, which should lead to the establishment of the special zone for the industry would provide the needed relief for holders of mining licences to escape the threat of forfeiture of such as enshrined in the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act when it is put to use. This SEZ when established would help to ignite activity in the sector, and jobs will be created for our teeming youth, while the government also rakes in revenues from the exportation of value-added minerals.”

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