Nigeria partners World Bank on state-of-the-art mining laboratory

ABUJA – The Nigerian Government has declared its preparedness to expand the nation’s mining potentials with the acquisition of state-of-the-art mining laboratory for analysis of samples from mining operations.

The laboratory consisting some of the most modern analytical equipment in the industry was procured with the assistance of the World Bank through the Sustainable Management of Mineral Resources Project (SMMRP) in the country.

The Nation’s Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Musa Mohammed Sada, disclosed this on Friday during an inspection tour of newly-acquired equipment at the National Geosciences Research Laboratories Centres (NGRL), in Kaduna, Kaduna State.

Sada further noted that President Goodluck Jonathan would be headlining the forthcoming Conference of Heads of Government of the Commonwealth taking place in Australia in October, 2011, where he is expected to speak on developments in the nation’s mining and minerals industry.

According to Sada, “Nigeria’s mining industry has come of age, and we feel it is only proper to let the world know of developments especially with regards to the enactment of investment-friendly laws, privatization of the sector, creation of a robust regulatory environment and the improvements in infrastructure for the sector.”

He noted that in the past the challenge for the sector had always been the lack of vibrant regulation and the almost non-existent infrastructure including modern equipment, laboratories and even accessible roads, among others.

“But all of that is changing today as working with relevant agencies, we are drastically bringing about a revolution in the minerals industry, and these state-of-the-art equipment procured with the support of the World Bank goes to show our readiness to do what is needful to bring the mining sector to the position of relevance in the nation’s economy.

“This centre will serve as a springboard and nerve-centre for mineral analysis and other researches in the region. Plan is underway to inaugurate a dimension stone laboratory within the centre to have a more integrated system for mineral sample analysis,” Sada stated.

The Minister pointed that more than 10,000 licences have been issued by the Mining Cadastre Office, adding that soon many of the operators would bring in samples for testing and it was only important to have such a centre of the nation will stake its claim as a mining destination for the world.

He noted that, “It is thereof important that we have a centre such as this that is adequate and modern to assist promote mining operations in the country. The Ministry is currently in talks with internationally acclaimed mining scientists and agencies such as the Western Australian government for technical support in the development of local skills for the sector.

“Our aim is to ensure that these laboratory becomes a Centre of Excellence for the region, in that other countries within the region would come here for their analysis. We are also determined to do things differently using the private sector for the improvement of infrastructure required for the industry.

“Therefore, it is imperative that the centre is self-sustaining by making necessary profit to be able to keep running efficiently and maximally for the benefit of the nation,” Sada added.

According to the Minister, there is need for the increased application of the equipment and resources at the centre in order for it to gain local and international recognition and certification.

He added, “The process of accreditation and international certification takes time and it is a challenge that we should all take up since it will go a long way in saving foreign currency spent in undertaking sample analysis outside the country.”

He, therefore, directed the Centre to partner with the Project Management Unit (PMU) and officials of the Ministry to create a trade brochure depicting the resources and equipment available at the centre for promotional purposes at international fora on mining and solid minerals.

Speaking in an interview with our correspondent, the Director of the Sustainable Management of Mineral Resources Project (SMMRP), Mr. Linus Adie noted that the centre would not only cater for analysis of rocks and other solid minerals, but would be applicable for use by defence and forensic experts, pharmaceuticals industries, agricultural analysis and environmental experts.

“Possible clients to the centre will include the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), agriculturists who may want to determine the character of the soil, road construction engineers, as well as people engaged in forensics and other forms of sample analysis,” Adie stated.

More importantly, Adie said, the centre would save the country millions of dollars it spends regularly on taking mineral samples to foreign countries including South Africa, Canada and Australia for analyses at different laboratories in those countries.

He said, “So much money is spent by miners and government, including the SMMRP, to take samples abroad for analysis. Now, we hope that with the acquisition of these state-of-the-art equipment for our laboratories, these monies would be saved within the country. We also look forward to doing the same for miners and groups from other countries given the cutting-edge nature of what we have here.”

Meanwhile, the Acting Director of the National Geosciences Research Laboratories Centre, Mr. Luke Abu noted that the NGRL is one of the four centres of the National Geological Survey Agency, which deal with specialized aspects of geosciences including Mineralogy/Petrology, Geochemistry, Sedimentology, Engineering, Geophysics, Drilling Cartography and national core shed.

He explained that, “The vision of the NGRL is to become the centre of excellence reputed both locally and internationally as a Geosciences referral laboratory, providing reliable and credible analytical support services to the mining and minerals industry in Nigeria.

“Our mission is to promote a socio-economic and environmentally responsible mining and mineral development in Nigeria through accurate and comparative analytical support services, research and development, for the purpose of wealth creation for all and sundry.”

Abu further noted that the NGSA was partnering with the Cargo Defence Fund and the National Association of Miners in order to offer local miners and exporters successful, cost-effective and and profitable export trade in solid mineral.

“With the array of equipment at our disposal, as well as our highly trained personnel, we would be able to offer credible analysis of materials for the solid minerals sector,” he added.

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