Australia and Canada have launched a two-year programme to support the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in developing the Nigeria’s mineral sector in an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable way.
The programme is expected to contribute to improved employment, economic diversification and development of small to medium scale exploitation of quarry materials, gems, gold and industrial minerals in the country.
The project, designed and implemented by the World Bank, is financed by the governments of Australia and Canada with $940,000 and $950,000 respectively.
It will build upon earlier reforms implemented by the Federal Government with the support of the World Bank-assisted $120 million Sustainable Management of Mineral Resources Project (SMMRP) from 2004 till 2012.
The assistance responded to a request from, and needs identified by the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development to sustain the process of the mining sector reform into the next phase.
The Australian Government’s support will help identify mineral resource corridors, improve education and training for mining sector employment, update the fiscal regime for mining, formulate an artisanal and small-scale mining strategy and review the strategy for mid-tier mine operators.
In addition to supporting the mining infrastructure planning, the Canadian government’s support is expected to contribute to strengthening the consolidated strategy for sustained mineral sector development in the country, finalise sector-specific environmental and social regulations, upgrade the geosciences research laboratory to serve the industry and increase the opportunities for gender equality in the mining sector.
Speaking on the intervention, the Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Chris Cooter, observed that the mining sector in Nigeria was just beginning to take shape, noting that the embassy was pleased to work with her partners in the sector to help improve economic development in Nigeria.
Speaking also, World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, noted that contributions from mining were still low at 0.15 per cent, but commended the country for re-invigorating the sector following the first five years of the SMMRP-supported reform.
She said: “The mining reform cycle normally has a long timeframe of over 10 years to bring its full benefit to the economy and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“It is important for the government to sustain the reforms and continue to place emphasis on institutional strengthening, transparency, accountability and governance improvements in the mining sector.”
Also, the Australian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Jonathan Richardson, said that the new project would support Nigeria’s efforts to diversify the economy, create employment, generate revenue and boost the socio-economic development of the country.
He said: “The aim is to develop a plan consistent with the Africa Union’s African Mining Vision 2050 and ECOWAS’s mineral development strategy.”