The Federal government has embarked on a multi-million naira mining exploration drive in seven local government areas of Kwara state to attract local and foreign investors into the sector.
Speaking with journalists on the planned airborne geophysical survey in the seven local government areas of Kwara state in Ilorin on Wednesday, the director-general of the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA), Dr Abdulrazaq Garba, said that the effort is aimed at diversifying the revenue base of the economy, generate employment opportunities, and increase internally generated revenue drive of both the state and federal governments.
The DG, who said that the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development will on June 21 commence airborne geophysical survey to generate mining information and data about potential mineral resources in the Asa, Ilorin West, Moro, Oyun, Irepodun, Offa, and Oke Ero local government areas of the state, added that the aircraft deployed for the missions would fly at low altitudes, urging residents not to panic over the low-flying aircraft.
Dr Garba also said that the programme, which is planned to take place across 19 states of the country over the next few months, is organised through the Mineral Sector Support for Economic Diversification Project (MINDIVER), a World Bank assisted project.
He also said that the information to be generated in the survey would be beneficial because the mining sector depends on geo-science information, urging residents of the state not to panic either as a result of the loud noise of the aircraft due to the low flying altitude to be maintained by the aircraft or the seemingly zigzag pattern of movement of the aircraft.
"The Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development is one of the key ministries which the present administration intends to use to diversify the nation's economy. The ministry is supposed to generate geoscience information to promote the mining industry and hasten investment.
"In recent time, the ministry has carried out some geochemical activities in the state. The ministry has invested in the National Integrated Mineral Exploration Project through which some surveys have been carried out somewhere at Lafiagi Gbugbu axis of the state; so, a team of experts will be coming to the state to determine the sub-surface extension of the potentials of mineral resources in the state.
The benefit to the state is mutual in the sense that mining is capital intensive. Mining depends on geoscience data and one of the key components of the ministry of mines and steel development of the mining sector. All the mining nation we have across the world depends on data, for example, South Africa depends on data, Burkina Faso is currently doing exploration activities of about $40milion every year. South Africa did some drilling across the country despite the fact that there are so many mining companies in South Africa of about $30million to $40million. What the government of President Buhari is trying to do is to provide baseline information that will develop the sector. Despite that Nigeria is under recession as a result of low prices of oil, although the prices are coming up, we need to diversify the economy and the president has consistently said mining is one of the platforms he wants to use to diversity the economy and this activity is one of the means.
"If a company is set up in the state, the people from the state will benefit. They will employ the locals and this is part of the employment generation the president has always been talking about; Diversifying the revenue base of the country. If it is a metallic mineral for export, just like oil, the government will get revenue for it. If it is marble, we can set up a cement industry. If it is Kaolin, it can be used for pharmaceuticals, tyres, plastic etc. These are the mineral value chains. It has a lot of opportunities at the exploratory level, visibility level, and mining stage.”