The Federal Government has opened discussions with the Australian government on safer mining practice in Nigeria’s mineral sector.
The discussion is aimed at getting the support of the Australian government in the area of environmental safety and safety of miners.
The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, disclosed this during a meeting with the Australian Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary (African Branch), Matthew Neuhaus, in Abuja on Wednesday.
Fayemi said although his ministry was already working with the Ministry of Environment on environmental safety, he was optimistic that partnering with Australia, which has a successful mining sector, would help the Nigerian government in its quest for safer mining practice.
“The government takes the issue of environmental safety seriously, because the health and well-being of the people are of paramount interest to us.” he said.
The Minister stated that about 80 percent of mining activities in the country was being carried out by artisanal miners, compelling his ministry to embark on organising them to ensure their safety and that of the environment.
“Owing to Australia’s long experience in mining, we want to share your success story”, the minister added.
Other areas of assistance, according to the minister, included the need to get 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 outside the country for necessary tests and certification.
He said it was time the Kaduna laboratories secured international certification to enable it perform its functions as the foremost geoscience laboratory in the country.
Fayemi however assured the Australian envoy that corruption and insecurity were already being tackled by the Buhari administration as part of the efforts at rebuilding the economy.
“There is a link between corruption and insecurity. All these are being corrected as we rebuild the economy. And we are optimistic the economy would be better for it,” he said.
In his response, the Australian Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary said his team would work with the officials of the Solid Minerals Development Ministry to work out an arrangement aimed at realising the two requests.
Neuhaus restated the commitment of the Australian government towards ensuring that Nigeria occupied her rightful position as a mining destination, applauding the commitment of the present administration to diversifying the economy.