Commonwealth, FG open talks on Deep Sea Mining

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By Palma Ileye

Profitable prospects for deep sea mining in Nigeria’s coastal waters topped the presentation of the Commonwealth Secretariat to the Nigerian delegation led by Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Oladele Alake was on a courtesy visit to the institution last week.

In his determination to mobilize international assistance to position the solid minerals sector to compete globally, Alake requested to discuss matters of mineral development with the Commonwealth.

Addressing the forum, he said President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has identified the solid minerals sector as a pillar of Nigeria’s current efforts to diversify the economy.

This policy, he remarked, led the Ministry to develop a Seven-point Agenda that includes the establishment of a solid minerals company, gathering of Big Data on mineral reserve to de-risk investments, improved security to keep the mines safe and socio-economic development of mining communities through effective community development agreements.

He said the Commonwealth, as an institution that has developed expertise over many years, should support the Tinubu administration’s efforts.

Note, Nigeria, a former British colony, is a member of the 54-member Commonwealth.

Responding, the Senior Director, Trade, Oceans, and Natural Resources Department, Paul Kautoke, commended the delegation for visiting the Commonwealth secretariat.
He said Nigeria, as a coastal country, could explore the profitable prospects of extraction of deep sea minerals such as copper, cobalt, nickel, gold, and rare earth elements.

He noted that many Commonwealth countries in the Pacific region were making inroads in the seep sea mining subsector promising that the Commonwealth could assist in developing a policy for Nigeria.

Also addressing the forum, Director, Natural Resources, Victor Kitange, Trade and Investment Adviser, Opeyemi Abebe, Economic Adviser, Trade, Ocean and Natural Resources, Daniel Wilder and Adviser, Ocean Governance Allison Swaddling spoke about the progress achieved in deep sea mining expressing concerns that African countries were lagging behind.

While Swaddling said there are online training programmes developed by the department, Abebe, who recalled working with the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council to develop capacity offered to provide similar assistance to get Nigeria into deep sea mining.

In his response, Alake said the discussion has brought a new dimension to mineral development and promised that the ministry would study the dimension of deep sea mining in collaboration with other ministries and put together a country proposal for further consideration.