The Federal Government has declared support for the success of nickel project and other investors in the mining sector as a way of actualising its economic diversification plan.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, said this in a statement signed by his Special Assistant on Media, Mr Olayinka Oyebode in Australia and made available to newsmen in Abuja on Thursday.
Oyebode quoted Fayemi as having made the statement in his presentation at the opening session of the Africa Down Under (ADU) Conference in Perth, Australia.
He said the minister spoke to a gathering of African Ministers of Mines and Minerals, policy makers, investors, operators and mining financiers where Nigeria’s nickel discovery formed major highlights.
The minister’s aide said it was a gathering where the massive deposit of world class Nickel in Dagoma, Kaduna State and its prospect as a game changer for the Nigerian economy dominated discussion.
Fayemi, who presented a paper entitled: “Mining for Shared Prosperity: Why Nigeria, Why Now”, said government would support the nickel project and other investors to move from resource-find to exploration and processing.
The minister, who outlined government’s support for the nickel project as well as other genuine investments in the mining sector, noted that government would not compromise its laws and regulations.
He, however, urged investors in the sector to engage and build mutual and beneficial relationships with the host communities through the state government.
Fayemi also urged investors to work with the state government in their community relations engagement in order to build harmonious working relationship with the host communities.
“You need the cooperation of the host communities as well as the state government.
“Even when our constitution allows the Federal Government to issue you licence, you need the understanding and cooperation of the state government and the host communities whose environment you are going to work.
“The host communities should have a stake in your investment.
“Once that is done, they would see themselves as part- owners and would ensure non-sabotage of your efforts. ‘’This, we have learnt through experience,” he said.
Speaking on the nickel deposit, he told the conference that it was reputed to be of a high grade and a “rare find” and which covered about 20-kilometre square in Dagoma village, Southern Kaduna.
The minister said security of the environment was one of the first major steps taken by Nigerian government to ensure the success of the project.
He said that government was also collaborating with Comet Minerals limited (that discovered the mineral) on sundry other aspects of the project.
Fayemi said the nickel discovery could be a game changer if properly managed, adding that government would support in line with the wealth creation and job creation agenda of its economic diversification plan.
He listed the Federal Government’s incentives for investors to include tax holidays (which is renewable), duty waiver on imported mining equipment and 100 ownership of business concern, among others.
The minister, however, said that government would insist on best practices with emphasis on enforcement of law and order.
On government’s effort at curtailing illegal mining, Fayemi said the formalisation of the informal miners remained one of government’s approaches to solve the menace of illegal mining.
In his presentation, Mr Hugh Morgan, Director of Comet Minerals Limited, attested to the support of ministry on the nickel discovery.
Morgan said his company had started engaging the community, having drawn the land ownership map of the areas covered by the nickel deposit.
A Professor of Geology, Ms Lousia Lawrence, said a lot of work had gone into authenticating the high quality nickel deposit.
This, she said had further proved that the nickel deposit could be the game changer for Nigeria.
According to Wikipedia, Nickel is a chemical element with symbol Ni and atomic number 28.
It is a silvery-white lustrous metal with a slight golden tinge, belonging to the transition metals, hard and ductile.
As a compound, nickel has a number of niche chemical manufacturing uses, such as a catalyst for hydrogenation.
Nickel is an essential nutrient for some microorganisms and plants that have enzymes with nickel as an active site.