2 February 2021 By Georgina Humphrey
The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has embarked on the development of Artisanal and Small-Scale Minings (ASM) Clusters for selected minerals in the Six Geopolitical Zones for effective harmonization of their exploitation.
Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah, stated this during the handing and taking over ceremony of landed property donated by the Cross River State Government for the establishment of Artisanal and Small-Scale processing clusters for the South-South Zone in Calabar.
Dr Ogah said that the development of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mineral Processing Plant cluster project is an initiative of the Federal Government in swift response to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic that has ravaged the world.
He explained that to curtail the devastating effects of the pandemic on the means of livelihood of Nigerians, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the implementation of the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan which entails the development of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mineral Processing clusters for the development and harnessing of revenue from the Mineral sector.
The minister added that the Ministry is focusing on artisanal and small-scale mining activities as it constitutes over 90% of the mining industry in Nigeria.
‘It will promote efficiency, increase specialization in minerals exploitation and marketing to generate the desired revenue, job and wealth,’ he said.
Dr. Ogah stressed that the Federal Government’s choice of Cross River State for the citing of the cluster for Barite Value Chain development was based on the fact that the State is endowed with large commercial deposits of the mineral, adding that the criteria for selection was based on availability of raw materials.
He commended the State Government for its speedy response to the Ministry’s request for providing and handing over the title deeds of the land.
In his remarks, the Governor of Cross River State, Benedict Ayade who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Prof. Ivara Esu, said the State approved five hectares as requested by the Ministry, adding that the cluster project would be a major centre of activity for barite artisanal and small-scale miners in the South-South Zone.
The Governor commended the Ministry for its fairness and magnanimity for choosing Cross River State as home for the barite cluster project and enjoined the Ministry to ensure the immediate take off of the project.