The Federal Government has opened discussion with the Australian government on safer mining practice in the country’s solid minerals sector.
The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, disclosed this after a meeting with the Australian Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary (African Branch), Matthew Neuhaus, in Abuja, according to a statement.
Fayemi said the discussion was aimed at getting the support of the Australian government in the area of environmental safety and safety of miners, as the government focused attention on the mining sector in its economic diversification and job creation plan.
The minister stated that though his ministry was working with the Ministry of Environment on environmental safety, he stressed that collaborating with Australia and its hugely successful mining sector would help the Nigerian government’s quest for safer mining practices.
According to him, 80 per cent of mining activities in the country are being carried out by artisanal miners, hence the concern of the government to ensure their safety and the environment.
“The government takes the issue of environmental safety seriously, because the health and wellbeing of the people are of paramount interest to us. Owing to Australia’s long experience in mining, we want to share their success story,” Fayemi stated.
Another area of assistance required by Nigeria, according to him, is the need to get the ministry’s laboratory, the National Geosciences Research Laboratories, in Kaduna certificated.
The minister decried a situation where mineral samples from the country had to be taken to laboratories abroad for necessary tests and certification.
He said it was time the Kaduna laboratory got international certification so that it could live up to its billing as the foremost geoscience laboratory in the country.
In his response, the Australian Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary said his team would collaborate with the officials of the Solid Minerals Development ministry to work out arrangements to realise the two needs of the country.