What have been the main milestones realized by the Ministry in the last 1-2 years?
The main advances made in the mining sector over the past two years have focused on improving the governance of the sector. In view of the significant challenges of the sector, the government has deemed it necessary to put in place a strategic framework that responds to new development challenges. In July 2020, Niger adopted by decree the National Mining Policy document. This constitutes a unifying framework for all players in the mining sector. It was developed together with the Public Administration, private actors in the mining sector, civil society organizations and technical and financial partners, while complying with the mining policies of UEMOA and ECOWAS and to the African Mining Vision, as well as to international requirements given our country's membership in the EITI. The ambition of the mining policy is to make the mining sector a powerful lever for Niger's development while keeping it competitive and attractive to investors.
Secondly, Niger's mining code has been revised to take into account certain current concerns and improve the sector’s attractiveness; this is currently pending approvals.
How is Niger mitigating the environmental risks associated with uranium exploitation?
In Niger, the application for an exploitation permit for uranium (and other substances) includes an environmental impact study including an environmental protection program and a site rehabilitation plan; as well as an environmental compliance certificate.
A Site Rehabilitation Stock (RDS) is set up by the Uranifères companies to meet the expenses related to the development of sites at the end of operation.
The administration regularly performs environmental compliance checks at mining sites and ensures compliance with environmental protection standards.
What is the significance of ECOMOF taking place in Niamey this year?
ECOMOF is an initiative of the ECOWAS Commission which recommended the holding of a regional mining and petroleum forum as part of activities to promote and develop the mining and petroleum potential of member states.
The ECOWAS Commission and the Government of the Republic of Niger are collaborating to organize the 3rd edition of the ECOWAS Mining and Petroleum Forum, ECOMOF 2021, to be held in Niamey from February 16-18, 2022. ECOMOF is the gathering of the highest government delegations from the fifteen member states of West Africa of ECOWAS: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.
This event aims to promote and develop the mining and petroleum potential of the Member States and to contribute to the socio-economic integration of the West African region, including through the harmonization of legal, regulatory and fiscal instruments. ECOMOF has a broad agenda including: the development of artisanal and small-scale mining; the creation of geological, mining and petroleum databases for Member States; the development of human resources and community infrastructure via mining and petroleum industries, as well as strengthening trade in these industries and promoting corporate social responsibility.
It is also an opportunity for us to invite potential investors from around the world and interest them in the mining, oil and energy sectors.
What are your main priorities in the next 1-2 years?
Our priority is first to ensure the revival of the mining sector in our country and to make it play an important part in the country's growth. This revival is essentially conditioned by the strengthening of existing structures and the diversification of mining production and partners. We have therefore set about improving governance, knowledge and promotion of the country's mining potential.
Experience shows that successful institutions are those which develop competence in carrying out the tasks of designing and executing mining policy; in the application of regulations; in the administration of the mining sector, including the management of the mining cadastre; in the construction and maintenance of geological and mining databases for dissemination to potential investors; in mining promotion and investment facilitation; in monitoring prospecting and mining activities to ensure that all labor and cost requirements are met; and in monitoring compliance with occupational safety rules, worker hygiene, and environmental protection measures.
Do you have a final message to share with our readers and your broader stakeholders?
The Ministry is leading a program of improving knowledge of the mining potential, diversifying partners, improving governance and the increasing of the contribution of the extractive industries to the development of our country.