The Federal Government has announced eight firms as winners of the bids for exploration of minerals under the Integrated Exploration Project (IEP).

The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Abubakar Bwari, announced the winners during the flag off of the project, where he said the project under the Natural Resources Fund, NRF, would be executed by his ministry.

The minister said that the IEP was targeted at attracting investments into the nation’s abundant solid minerals sector in furtherance of the present administration’s economic diversification agenda.

According to him, industrial minerals for local consumption and import substitution, metallic minerals for generating foreign exchange and energy minerals for power generation towards the nation’s growth and substantial development, was important.

He said: “This integrated project is therefore long overdue, and its success will be critical in determining how far government can go in its efforts to reposition the sector.

“Actually, the credibility of this ministry, as well as the seriousness with which the international community will evaluate our effort at becoming a viable mining jurisdiction will be dependent on the way we handle this critical project.

“At this juncture, we want to particularly thank all who worked hard to make this event possible. We expect maximum commitment in the execution of this project because a lot is at stake”, Bwari added.

The minister also advised the companies to file in what they will be doing on the field through the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency in order for the ministry to know the level of progress made.

“I therefore, expect regular updates on work progress, particularly from the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency which will be supervising this project on behalf of the Ministry. I urge you to strictly adhere to the job specifications and contractual agreements stipulated in the terms of engagement while also ensuring that local expertise is adequately employed,” he said.