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The Miners Association of Nigeria on Tuesday in Abuja called for the liberalisation of the dimension stone market just as it opposed the placement of a ban on its importation.

Dimension stones are natural stones or rocks that have been selected and cut for specific use.

The National President of the Association, Mr. Sunday Ekosin, made the call in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria.

He said that the liberalisation would encourage more importation of the stones from Europe and Asia.

Ekosin said this would serve as a meaningful alternative as against the call for a ban on the commodity by some stakeholders.

The Ministry of Mines and Steel in 2009 said that more than 80 per cent of the dimension stone used in the country were imported.

Ekosin said that the local market was an emerging one, which could not satisfy the needs of consumers.

He said, 'It should only be liberalised in a bid to aid its development at this point.''

He also observed that the local market could not compete favorably in terms of quality and quantity with the imported stone.

Ekosin said the market was being serviced by only the Kaduna and Bauchi factories, adding that the two factories could not produce sufficiently for Nigeria's needs.

He noted that even if other factories in Lagos and Edo were functioning, they would not produce enough to meet local demand for the stone.

Ekosin urged those who called for total ban on the importation of the stone to be realistic.