It gives me great pleasure to be at this Workshop on Solid Minerals Resource Development. The Workshop not only underscores the importance of the sector; it will also help to support our reform efforts in this critical segment of the economy.
I consider this event a strategic initiative, intended to attract the appropriate commitment of all stakeholders. The Workshop underlines the cooperation and partnership between the private sector and public institutions that will drive the goal of economic prosperity of our nation.
The Minerals and Metals Sector is an integral part of the development template which I presented to the Nation at the outset of this Administration. We have articulated and continued to implement policies, programmes and projects required to strengthen the institutions of governance and in so doing, create jobs, wealth and also increase domestic and foreign direct investment in the economy.
In the last two years, significant progress has been made in the minerals sector with regard to regulation and reform. We have also taken steps to establish and reinforce appropriate institutions. A New Roadmap for Solid Minerals and Metal Sector Development was presented to both the Federal Executive Council and the general public in January this year. The essence of the roadmap was to set out guidelines for the phased development of the sector. It thus represents a critical step forward in the advancement of the sector.
Although considerable progress has been made, we are yet to achieve the desired results. There has been much interest in the sector but we are not yet at the point where significant domestic or foreign investment is flowing into the sector. This Workshop is the next step in advancing this work, to grow the sector and achieve our cherished goal of economic diversification.
My expectation is that this Workshop will produce concrete ideas and recommendations that will unleash the economic and social potentials of this sector. The vulnerability of our solid minerals sector, and the need for orderly development was clearly demonstrated in the lead poisoning incident in Zamfara state, recently. Whilst we applaud the efforts of all involved in the successful remediation of all the affected mining sites and surrounding areas, we must take every necessary step to ensure that this does not occur anywhere in Nigeria again.
I therefore charge you to identify the barriers to the development of the sector, including environmental, social and regulatory challenges, and the policies government must develop and implement to address them. I further charge you to focus attention on the beneficial exploration and exploitation of industrial minerals such as limestone, kaolin, silica, gypsum, gemstones, dimension stone, and ceramic clay since the development of the value chains is critical to any large-scale job creation efforts.
Nigeria has about 44 varieties of minerals in more than 500 locations, 7 of which are recognized as strategic minerals owing to their high economic potential. The country has the capacity to expand the contribution of the solid mineral sector to the economy. The fact that the minerals are spread across the country is a blessing as every part of Nigeria can prosper from them.
For example, the coal resource represents an excellent opportunity for us to diversify our energy stock. It is our intention that 30% of our electricity generation should come from coal, using environmentally-friendly, clean technology. Nigeria is endowed with abundant coal reserves of the required quality necessary for power generation.
I therefore, welcome the growing synergy between the Ministries of Mines and Steel Development and Power. This is made manifest in their collaborative effort to attract investors to coal-fired power generation opportunities. We expect this cooperation to continue.
This workshop is therefore timely because if we focus on this squarely, the sector can be a driver for jobs, growth, industrialization and wealth creation. I enjoin you to participate actively.
Ladies and Gentlemen, while the task before us is great, the ingenuity and determination of Nigerians are greater. I am confident that this Workshop will catalyze our efforts towards achieving our goal of developing our solid minerals sector. Please speak frankly.
It is my honour and pleasure to declare this Workshop open.
Thank you and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Goodluck Ebele Jonathan
President, Federal Republic of Nigeria
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