Nigeria mining sector, emerging investors’ goldmine

THE Nigerian mining sector is gradually becoming the toast of both local and foreign investors, going by the current reforms undertaken by the Federal Government in the sector. Data obtained from the Federal Government revealed that Nigeria currently has over 44 known types of minerals of varying mixes and proven quantities, some of which are concentrated in certain regions. Despite these huge potentials, mining in Nigeria, over the years, had been rudimentary and predominantly undertaken by small entrepreneurs and unlicensed, unskilled individuals, a situation that aggravates health hazards and environmental degradation. It is a known fact that every geo-political zone and state in Nigeria has unexplored or underutilised mineral deposits due to the focus on the oil sector and lack of investment and funding. Realising these, the Federal Government in its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017 to 2020, declared that the solid minerals sector is one of Nigeria’s most promising growth sectors. According to the document, although its overall contribution to GDP growth is small, its contribution to GDP doubled from N52 billion in 2010 to N103 billion in 2015, adding that in 2015, quarrying and other mining accounted for 89 per cent of the sector while coal mining represented seven per cent and metal ores four per cent. These had led the Federal Government to develop a roadmap for the industry, aimed at growing the sector, ensuring that its contributions to the country’s GDP is significant. Confirming the growing attractiveness of the sector, Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Mr. Abubakar Bawa Bwari explained that due to government’s commitment to growing the mining sector, leading to the leverage of about $3.32 billion private investments into mining projects as provided in the ERGP focused lab, Nigeria is today ranked among the most conducive environments to do mining business. Bawa had told participants at the just-concluded Africa Down Under 2018 Conference in Australia, that given this new trend, private investments into mining projects covering gold mining and refining, foundry works, lead/zinc exploration and production, tin and columbite mining and processing among others, have experienced unprecedented leap in production. He said: “The Nigerian mining sector is now more than ever an investors’ haven evidenced from the high grade deposits exploited by current operators coupled with the conducive and competitive investment climate comprising 100 per cent ownership of mining project as secured by the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007; waiver of customs and import duties for plant, machinery and equipment imported for mining operations; tax holidays of three to five years; free transfersbility of funds; permission to retain and use earned foreign exchange; capital allowances of up to 95 per cent of qualifying capital expenditure and predictability of environmental costs.” He further stated that this significant leap in Nigeria’s mining fortune was borne out of the present government’s resolve to hinge on the experience gained at the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan Focus Lab where the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development focused on removing challenges hindering formal exploitation of gold, tin and lead-zinc mineral endowment. This, Bwari noted, was following reports of massive exports of these mineral commodities to foreign smelters against Nigeria’s low production figures. He said: “New export guidelines for the export of mineral commodities have been developed, which seeks to ease challenges surrounding grant of export permits and licensing issues. Formal mining is on the rise in Nigeria and this is evidenced by the number of mineral titles held by investors.” “Prominent among these projects include Symbol Mining/Goidal Resources that are currently developing an open pit mine for exploiting lead-zinc deposits located in Bauchi and Nasarawa states. “First Patriots are already mining and producing 5,000 tonnes per month lead-zinc concentrates; Thor Explorations Limited that are continuing with mine development and exploration works over Segilola Gold Project; two coal mines operated by Eta-zuma Group and Ashaka Cement Plc; and Promethean Resources that engages in the production of tin and columbite concentrates for export.” Bwari allayed fears about easy transportation of finished products, stating that the government has gone ahead with strategies to solve challenges through the implementation of a National Integrated Infrastructure Masterplan.

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