Seun Odewale, Chief of Staff to the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, a facilitator at a three-day media immersion workshop for journalists covering the mining sector, said this on Wednesday in Lokoja, Kogi State.
The theme of the workshop is: “On the Road to Shared Mining Prosperity: Emphasising Excellence in Mining Reporting.”
Odewale said the ministry, under the leadership of the Minister, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, was able to generate the sum against the N700 million generated in 2015.
He said the ministry was able to achieve this through closer monitoring of funds paid and provision of enabling tools for inspectorate officers.
According to him, the ministry is making efforts to access $600 million from the Nigerian Stock Exchange, among others, adding that the ministry is looking inward to access more funds from multilateral institutions to scale up mining activities in Nigeria.
Odewale, however, noted some of the challenges affecting mining operations in Nigeria, including insufficient geological data, uncooperative federalism, low productivity, illegal artisanal mining.
Others are weak institutional capacity, insufficient funding, ease of doing business and perception issues.
He said for Nigeria to be recognised as a mining nation, government should improve its geological data, provide infrastructure such as rail that could reduce heavy truck moving raw materials and finished products, especially when Ajaokuta Steel Company starts operation.
He noted that Nigeria had large gold belt around the north to the west that could be harnessed, adding that the Burkina Faso Government spent $300 million to confirm gold deposit in its country.
Olu Jacob, Senior Special Assistant to the Minister of State on Steel, said the workshop was timely as journalists reporting the ministry’s activities should be more conversant with how to report its programmes.
Jacob, who is one of the facilitators, said that immersion journalism should go beyond reporting the normal routine and interview stories, but more investigative from the beginning to the end, reporting that would make them experts about the ministry’s activities.
“The workshop is to make the ministry’s reporters more in tune about what is going on in the ministry and being an expert on the ministry’s activities,” he said.
Dauda Awojobi, former Director, Mines Inspectorate of the ministry, said the training was significant to all the journalists as they would be better informed to report the activities of the ministry accurately.
According to Awojobi, the workshop will expose journalists to how mining is conducted, laws and regulation, among others.
The three days’ workshop is organised at Lokoja by the ministry in collaboration with OSIWA, to train 50 journalists from different media organisations.
The first day addressed the significance of the workshop, understanding the role of the media in mining sector, introduction to Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited and Federal Government’s operational plans using the plant.