Minerals Development Corporation Bill scales 2nd reading at Senate

March 23, 2021
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A Bill to establish the Nigerian Mineral Development Corporation passed through second reading at The Senate on Tuesday.

This followed the presentation of the lead debate on the general principles of the Bill by the sponsor Sen. Umaru Tanko Al-Makura (APC-Nasarawa) during plenary.

Leading the debate, Al-Makura recalled that the Bill was read for the first time on Sept. 30, 2020.

The former governor of Nasarawa State said establishing the corporation would provide the needed revenue to deliver on the administration’s priority areas of infrastructure development.

“It will also ensure social inclusion and poverty reduction, industrialisation and job creation for the citizens of Nigeria,” he said.

He noted that part of the administration’s objective was to strategically diversify Nigeria’s economy from being a mono-product economy to the productive development of various sectors of the economy.

“Next to agriculture, the solid minerals sector has been identified as one with the potential to compete and eventually replace crude oil as a major source of foreign exchange earnings.

“Consequently, the Economy Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) created focus labs made up of professionals from the mining sector to create intervention programmes to de-risk the solid minerals sector and increase revenue for all stakeholders, making the sector more attractive to both local and foreign investors.”

Contributing, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu (APC-Nasarawa), said that the coming into being of the corporation would go a long way in enhancing the effort at maximising the existence of solid minerals across the country.

Also, Sen. Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC-Kebbi), said “Nasarawa as at today has one of the highest quality baryte deposit in the whole world.

“It has been tested and it has been proven as one of the best.

“As at today, Nigeria is spending close to N1.5 trillion dollars in the importation of barytes which is less quality than the one produced in Nasarawa.

“It is very painful that baryte is imported from USA for the purpose of oil exploration.

“When this issue gets to the committee, the committee should equally look at the possibility of inserting a clause that will make it impossible for foreign minerals to compete with the locally produced one.

“Otherwise what we are going to have is a commission that promote the production of these minerals and then the minerals are not put to use.”

In his remarks, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said that it was imperative for the Nigerian economy to be diversified.

He added that the solid minerals sector was one channel through which the country could earn the much needed foreign exchange.

“We have a long way to go; we have not done enough.

“At the moment, there are very little investments into the sector and the contribution of the sector to our GDP is about 0.5 per cent even though we are so blessed and endowed with so much solid minerals all over the country.”

Lawan said that the corporation, when created, would definitely work to ensure the promotion, exploration and exploitation of solid minerals endowment in the country.

He, thereafter, referred the Bill to the Committee on Solid Minerals to report back in four weeks.

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