In continuation of its drive to grow its mining industry, Nigeria’s federal government has listed some minerals it considers of utmost importance for development, even as it intensifies efforts to woo mining investors worldwide to exploit the over 44 minerals earmarked for development in the mineral-rich West African nation.
Nigeria’s Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc Olamilekan Adegbite, who made these known in a keynote address at the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) Webinar On “Unlocking Nigeria’s Economic Potentials, amid and after Coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic” said mining offers the robust economic potential to diversify the nation’s oil-dependent economy, create jobs and increase government revenue.
Nigeria’s economy has been buffeted by the rampaging COVID-19 pandemic which has sent oil prices crashing to historical lows, necessitating a massive downward review of the nation’s 2020 national budget. Nigeria has been working very hard to revitalize her mining industry to make the oil-rich nation less dependent on the vagaries of the global oil market.
Adegbite listed the nation’s strategic minerals to include coal, iron ore, bitumen, gold, limestone, lead-zinc and barite, pointing out that the government is also looking at key minerals to fuel the future which he said are titanium, tungsten, lithium, and cobalt. He noted that titanium, tungsten, lithium, and cobalt have various applications in futuristic industries such as aerospace, telecoms, and electric vehicle manufacturing.
Adegbite also disclosed government’s moves to tackle and reduce the high rate of illegal gold mining and smuggling in the nation’s mining sector following the invasion of local and international illegal miners recently. Continuing, he said “I equally wish to point out some ongoing initiatives we have designed to support the sector. One of which is the optimisation of our mineral value chain. The ultimate objective is to minimise the export of raw materials, creating value along the chain that would increase industrial and manufacturing activities, create employment, and foster skills development. Presently, our priority is anchored in the gold sector. We are creating a gold ecosystem to minimize the high rate of illegal gold mining and smuggling, increase the government’s revenue from the resource, create jobs, and improve environmental and social stewardship”.
He added that “Through the ongoing Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Initiative (PAGMI), we are organising, formalising, and equipping Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Miners (ASGMs) in Kaduna, Kebbi, Osun, Niger, and Zamfara states. Miners of precious, metallic and industrial minerals will be linked to formal markets through licensed private Mineral Buying Centres. One such initiative is the recently launched Dukia-Heritage Bank Buying Centre. Two companies, Kian Smith and Dukia Gold Limited, located in Ogun state and the FCT respectively, have been granted licenses to refine gold and are in the process of building their refineries”.
The Minister also disclosed that the government is making efforts to stimulate mineral processing across the country using a hub approach that would give access to artisanal and small scale miners to add value to their commodities.
“We are trying to stimulate mineral processing across the country using a cluster or hub approach. Each cluster will be provided with road and power infrastructure to encourage investors in processing and refining equipment to support a network of miners and processors”
Adegbite highlighted other measures and initiatives put in place to galvanise the mining sector for growth which include working with several stakeholders to design mining-specific credit enhancement instruments. Miners will be able to access long-term finance at concessionary rates through these instruments; Generating integrated geoscience information that will help in derisking the mining sector. This is through the ongoing National Integrated Mining Exploration Project (NIMEP). Target minerals include gold, platinum group metals (PGM), nickel, chromium, lead/zinc, barite, iron ore, copper, and others. Developing a mineral economic corridor to address infrastructure gaps in the mining value chain. Transport networks connecting mines to ports and end-users will be constructed to enhance the competitiveness of the Nigerian mining industry since the infrastructure will be shared with other sectors.
“With support from the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and his focus on economic diversification, job creation, and sustainable revenue generation, I am confident that Nigeria’s Mining Industry is on track to reach our goal of five per cent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contribution in the next five years”, Adegbite noted.
He called on international investors and mining companies to seize the vast opportunities in Nigeria’s mining sector, adding that new regulations have been made to make mining attractive and very rewarding to investors.