The Federal Government on Thursday opened talks with a team of bankers from the Stanbic IBTC and Standard Bank, South Africa, on financing investments in iron ore and coal processing.
Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Mr Bawa Bwari, told the bankers led by Global Sector Head, Mining and Metals Client Coverage at Standard Bank, Mark Buncombe, that the country was ripe for substantial investment in the mining sector.
The delegation was in Nigeria on behalf of its client, African Natural Resources and Mines Limited, which has steel plants in the country and recently found iron ore which it intends to exploit to feed the steel plants.
Bwari urged the bankers to go beyond their relationship with African Natural Resources and Mines Limited and play in the country’s solid minerals sector, adding that there were other operators in the sector that were in need of finance.
He said, “Today, we have the African Natural Resources and Mines, your client, who discovered iron ore in Kadarko, Kaduna State and they want to develop it to feed the seven steel plants they have in Nigeria.
“They also want to build a coal plant. It is a company we are proud of and will work even more closely with it following your visit.”
Speaking generally on the sector, Bwari stated, “We have discovered about 44 minerals and we have also developed a road map in the area of industrial minerals because government’s priority is to create job opportunities for our people, increase contribution of mining to the country’s Gross Domestic Product and ensure that mining is done in the best standard practice in terms of human health and environmental degradation.
“Today, as a country, we are self-sufficient in cement production because we have large deposits of limestone. We are now exporting cement to other countries of the world.
“We want to do the same in phosphate for agriculture and taconite for the pharmaceutical industry but we discovered that no country can develop or industrialise without the steel sector. And for long, we have been trying to develop our steel sector. We have challenges that we are trying to address but we shall surely get there.”
The minister also received a mining delegation from Morocco led by the Managing Director of OCP Africa, Mohammed Hettiti, who came to seek collaboration in the area of phosphate development locally.
Bwari highlighted and appreciated the long-standing relationship between Morocco and Nigeria.
“We know that your country is one of the best producers of phosphate. So we want to leverage our relationship to collaborate with you in developing our own phosphate,” the minister said.
He added that the country has had good relations with Morocco in agriculture and expressed confidence that this would be replicated in the solid minerals sector.