Abuja, Nigeria, Thursday, December 13, 2012 – The Managing Director/CEO of Nigerian Export Import Bank (NEXIM), Mr. Roberts U. Orya met with the Patrons of the Miners’ Association of Nigeria at the NEXIM House in Abuja to further deliberate on a strategic framework the Bank and the Association are developing to better structure and attract sustainable investments to the Solid Minerals sector. .

In a statement issued by the Corporate Communication Department of the Bank, the meeting with the Miners’ Association was essentially a gesture by its patrons to discuss issues of mutual cooperation with NEXIM as a follow-up to the interactive business dinner organized by the Association in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Mines & Steel Development.

Presenting the Bank’s strategic initiative and market focus to the Association, Mr. Orya reiterated that Solid Minerals is a cardinal sector for the Bank under its MASS Agenda. Till date, the Bank has committed more than N2.5b or 9% of its total portfolio since August 2009 to the sector.

For the NEXIM MD, this does not scratch the surface of the sector’s requirement if Nigeria is to take advantage and benefit from the huge mineral deposits with which God has blessed the country. Solid minerals mining is a high capital intensive area and requires strong Government intervention to unlock its huge revenue and job creation benefits for the country.

Using statistics from the Mining Cadastre Office and the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency factsheets, Orya stated that, Nigeria is endowed with more than 33 commercially viable solid minerals which could be exploited including gold, lead-zinc ore (Galena), iron ore, columbite, ilmenite, cassiterite, uranium, copper, molybdenite, manganese, wolframite, rutile and diorite, bauxite, gypsum, talc, bentonite and barite, rock salt, gem stones, kaolin etc. When it is considered that some of these minerals are in very dense deposits, one begins to appreciate the picture better. For example, Nigeria has identified talc deposits exceeding 40 million tonnes in locations such as Niger, Osun, Kogi, Ogun and Kaduna states), over 3 billion metric tonnes of iron ore deposits in Kogi, Enugu and Niger States as well as the Federal Capital Territory, an estimated 10 million tonnes of lead/zinc veins are spread over eight states of Nigeria, bitumen deposits indicated at about 42 billion tonnes; almost twice the amount of existing reserves of crude petroleum with Nigerian coal being one of the most bituminous in the world owing to its low sulphur and ash content and therefore the most environment-friendly. According to Orya, there are nearly 3billion tonnes of indicated reserves in 17 identified coal fields and over 600 million tonnes of proven reserves. He then wondered why, despite all these huge and commercial reserves of worlds’ most sought-after minerals.

Yet, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, solid minerals sector contributes less than 1 per cent to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), as against its erstwhile 10 per cent contribution prior to crude oil exploration while Solid Minerals contributed 9% of South Africa’s GDP in 2011. In South Africa today, according to available statistics, mining creates one million jobs (500 000 direct and 500 000 indirect) and accounts for about 18% of GDP (8.6% direct, 10% indirect and induced) as well as being a critical earner of foreign exchange at more than 50%, and accounting for 20% of investment (12% direct).

Accordingly, for NEXIM, the critical issues ranges from how to get the Government and other stakeholders to properly structure the mining sector, increase funding, and attract much need investment capital; infrastructural development for the industry especially the establishment of internationally certified laboratories and setting up of internationally recognized and endorsed mining calendar for Nigeria as prevalent in other regimes with dedicated attention to solid mineral exploitation.

 

In his response, the President of the Miners’ Association, Mr. Sani Shehu thanked the NEXIM Bank management for its commitment and support to the members in the quest to open up the solid mineral sector. According to him, “…the Association is overwhelmed by the passion of the Bank for the growth of mining industry in Nigeria and for supporting the players in the industry to actualize their aspiration…”

He agreed with Mr. Orya that the slow development of the solid minerals sector is attributable to a number of man-made and natural factors. Mr. Shehu stressed that the Government needs to quickly harmonise its policies on mining to enable an investment-friendly environment. He also identified paucity of fund as a major impediment to the growth of the mining sector and requested NEXIM Bank, based on the commited support to the Association members thus far, to strengthen efforts to get the Federal Government to provide much needed funding to the industry.

Shehu explained that mining is a capital-intensive project which requires long-term investments before its potentials could be fully realised. He noted that India, which is less endowed with solid minerals than Nigeria, currently earns 75 billion U.S. dollars (about N11.3 trillion) annually from solid minerals. According to him, “It took South Africa more than 15 years of steady investment to get there and the country now earns over 30 billion dollars (about N4.5 trillion) annually from the sub-sector,” he adds.

Going further, he informed the NEXIM Management that the Association is now a ‘national industry association’ whose membership includes all categories of licensed miners, and are better to positioned to satisfactorily meet the Bank’s conditions to secure facilities to boost their activities especially in the areas of beneficiation and value addition.

He specially thanked Mr. Orya and the NEXIM team on the ‘…speedy attention given to the applications from members of the Association…‘ and assured the Bank that they will always ensure to recommend members of proven integrity and track records that really need the support to grow their business.

He also indicated that the Association will continue to play proactive role in policy formulation and implementation regarding the mining industry.

On the need to set up a ‘Mining Calendar’ for Nigeria, the Miners’ President promised that within the next year, the Association will work with other stakeholders to ensure that such a calendar is set for a particular week in November each year.

 

About NEXIM Bank – The Nigerian Export-Import Bank was established by Act 38 of 1991 as an Export Credit Agency with the broad mandate to promoting the diversification of the Nigerian economy and deepening the external sector, particularly the non-oil through the provision of credit facilities in both local and foreign currencies; risk-bearing facilities through export credit guarantee & export credit insurance; business development and financial advisory services etc.

In pursuit of its mandate of promoting export diversification and deepening the non-oil sector, the Bank’s current strategic initiatives are targeted towards boosting employment creation and foreign exchange earnings in the Manufacturing, Agro-processing, Solid Minerals and Services (Tourism, Transportation and Entertainment) industries.