TheFederal Government, at the weekend, stated that N84 million has been shared among 11 universities for research, mapping and evaluation of specific solid minerals in the country.
The disclosure was made by the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Abubakar Bwari, at the presentation of letters of participation in research development to the 11 universities in Abuja.
Bwari explained that it was collaboration with the institutions in view of generating necessary data needed on solid minerals the research and mapping would be done, in order to increase geo-sciences data that would be made available to attract investors and enhance activities in the sector.
The universities include University of Ibadan, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, University of Jos, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, University of Port Harcourt, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nasarawa State University, Ebonyi State University, Ibrahim Babangida University, Lapai, and University of Lagos. He said: "Without geosciences data, there can be no mining and Nigeria suffers from lack of adequate data, especially the kind of bankable data that major mining companies need in order to invest in the sector.
"We hope that N84 million will impact on the students and lecturers that will be involved in the field works so that quality of learning in schools will continue to improve as well."
The minister also stated that the benefiting universities won the grants on merit according to their research proposals and potential value to grow and develop the sector. He charged the benefiting institutions to adhere strictly to the terms of reference and ensure that they deliver excellent results within six months.
According to him, the money was the first phase, and with 2018 budget, the second phase will commence.
"This is merely the first in the series and with the signing of the 2018 Budget, the second phase of this collaboration will commence soon," he said, assuring that when government's source of funding improves, it will increase the amount of money spent on critical components of mining for sustainability and development of the sector.
Also speaking, Chairman, Steering Committee for Research and Co-operation between Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and Universities, Prof. Gbenga Okunlola, said the emphasis now should be strong partnership for human capacity-building as the way forward to raising the sector's contribution to the GDP and promoting sustainable mining, which would create the expected synergy in the sector.