Senate moves to establish N5bn mineral development agency

Senate moves to establish N5bn mineral development agency

A bill seeking to establish the Nigerian Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) has scaled second reading at the senate.

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The agency would cost N5 billion to set up, according to the bill sponsored by Tanko Al-Makura, senator representing Nasarawa south.

At Tuesday’s plenary session, Al-Makura said NMDC would help diversify the economy and create jobs through the development of Nigeria’s mineral resources.

“The solid mineral sector has been identified as next to agriculture with the potential to compete and eventually replace crude oil as a major source of foreign exchange earnings,” the former governor said.

“Nigeria is blessed with an abundance of solid minerals but all these resources remain largely untapped and unexplored.

“Upon establishment of the corporation, initial funding shall be by way of a sovereign guarantee covering the sum of N5 billion only for a successful take-off of the operation including all initial capital and operating expenditure.

“The federal government of Nigeria will pay up its 70% equity contribution and the institutional investor shall pay their respective equity participation to the corporation.”

He added that the subsequent funding of the NMDC will be through the Nigerian Mineral Development Fund (NMDF).

Sani Musa, senator representing Niger state, said the agency would also make international miners confident “because they know that whatever they want to invest will be protected.”

“It will also help this country in generating employment for so many youths and reduce the security risk we are facing,” he said, adding that “the lack of this legislation gave rise to illegal miners who use their activities to fuel insecurity.

Binos Yoroe from Adamawa south said such an agency would also make Nigeria to be less dependent on oil.

“There is no part of this country that does not have one solid minerals or the other; so we need a coordinating body to drive the development of this sector,” he said.

Ike Ekweremadu, senator representing Enugu west, said the lawmakers must also work towards allowing the states to have more control over their mineral resources.

“Some states are colluding with illegal miners to undermine the provisions of the constitution. Time has come to look at how we can further devolve powers to the states so that they can have access to the minerals in their respective territories,” he said.

“I support this bill but I believe there is a need for proper interrogation of the bill regarding the provisions of the constituents and other relevant laws.”

The bill was subsequently passed for second reading and referred to the senate committee on solid minerals for further consideration.