Senate mulls solid minerals development commission

The Senate Tuesday passed for second reading a bill seeking for establishment of a Solid Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission.

The commission as stated in the bill sponsored by Senator Yakubu Oseni (APC Kogi Central) is to be saddled with formulation of policies and guidelines for the development of the mineral producing areas as well as address the environmental devastation and other related matters in the country.

Senator Oseni in his lead debate on the bill, said it seeks to provide for the accelerated development of the Nigerian solid mineral sector so as to diversify the nation’s economy and reduce the dependence on the dwindling oil revenues.

Other objectives of the bill as explained by him are “conception, planning and implementation, in accordance with set rules of projects and programmes for sustainable and regulations, development of the minerals producing areas in the field of transportation including roads, health, employment, industrialization, agriculture and fisheries, housing and urban development, water supply, electricity and telecommunications.

“I make bold to say that Nigeria is richly endowed with a variety of solid minerals of various categories ranging from precious metals to various precious stones and industrial minerals.

“The Nigerian Extractive Industries and Transparency Initiative (NEITI) reported that there are approximately 40 different kinds of solid minerals and precious metals buried in Nigerian soil waiting to be exploited.

“The sector offers a viable alternative to petroleum for foreign exchange earnings.

“Globally, the mining industry has been a close rival to the petroleum industry, while Nigeria only earns a paltry $89 million per annum from it. The commercial value of Nigeria’s solid minerals has been estimated to run into hundreds of billions of dollars”, he said.

On financial implication when established , Senator Oseni said : “contemplated overhead costs, recurrent and capital expenditure of the Commission when established is N158,042,050.32.”

Contributing, Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC Kogi West) said the importance of the commission cannot be overemphasised, noting it would enable government to regulate mining activities and save government trillions of naira being lost to illegal activities in the country.

In his remarks, the Senate President Dr. Ahmad Lawan, charged the Committee on Solid Minerals to conclude legislative work on the bill and report back within four weeks.