Story by Gladys Johnson
Olayinka O. Mubarak, Group Head, Solid Minerals and Metals, Large Enterprises Directorate, Bank Of Industry in Nigeria said that Nigeria is perhaps the last remaining frontier for mineral investment in the region. He pointed the fact that with the wide occurrence of minerals and a history of mineral production, Nigeria presented a rare opportunity for serious investors and that opportunity is worth exploring. Mubarak said this at the iPAD Nigeria Mining Forum which took place in Abuja, Ms Mubarak, was a panellist during a discussion on Available financial support for a growing industry.
The iPAD Nigeria Mining Forum in partnership with PwC Nigeria is regarded as a long overdue strategic investment platform that gathered key role players in the Nigerian mining space to discuss the way forward. Nigeria’s vastly underexploited natural resources include about 44 varieties of minerals in over 500 locations.
The MRI Group is the world’s 3rd largest independent trader of non-ferrous concentrates. Says Hadley Natus of MRI Trading: “two years ago MRI took the strategic decision to start operations in Nigeria and with the first forum of its kind in Nigeria; we couldn’t afford not to be a part of it.”
He adds: “it is our view that Nigeria has all the prerequisites to enjoy the benefits of building a mining industry from a low base and if managed correctly can be a major factor in increasing the standard of living for many Nigerians and help the government get away from its dependence on oil.”
Multiple challenges in industry
“The main challenges in the industry are multiple”, says Mr Ola Alokolaro, Managing Partner – Head of Energy and Infrastructure Group, Advocaat Law Practice and also a speaker at iPAD Nigeria while Advocaat explains about the issue of regulation of mining titles. Whilst a mining cadastre office has been set up and there is better transparency on the issuance of mining tittles, there is still a need for the monitoring of minimum work obligations of licensees; environmental compliance and the enforcement of the ‘use it or lose it’ principle.”
He continues: “secondly, the lack of adequate road and rail infrastructure is a hindrance to mining investments. We should be looking at PPP options to develop infrastructure. A third issue is funding of public mining institutions so as to be able to enforce provisions of the law and lastly access to long term funding to finance a mining project.”
Highly prospective region
At the iPAD Nigeria event the issue of lack of infrastructure was addressed as Carmie Olowoyo, General Manager Corporate, Symbol Base Metals, Australia, a panelist during the session said that given the scale of the workings and expansive distance they cover, it makes for a highly prospective region. The very high grade nature of the mineralization is almost unique in the world. “We are equally excited about the other opportunities that exist in the Nigerian mining sector. For reasons not limited to infrastructure deficiency, oil, security concerns, investor perception and limited modern exploration, the sector is very much underdeveloped.”
He added, “we are believers in the unique geology of Nigeria and very much encouraged by the renewed Government focus on solid mineral development. We believe the next couple of years will herald an investment boom into Nigeria, for the benefit of all.”
Mining sector gives massive employment
Oluwaseun Olatunji is MD of SBOG Nigeria said that his company is focused on doing its bit in the development of the mining trade in Nigeria, regardless of the enormous challenges. “We don’t believe in waiting on the federal government to do everything; however, we also have minimum expectations from the specific mining government agencies.”
The Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN) is also an official partner of the event. “My excitement about the mining industry in Nigeria is its ability to accommodate every player: small, medium and large” says Alhaji Sani Shehu, the MAN President, “the mining sector also gives massive employment and creates a lot of activities in the rural areas”.
He adds: “My vision for the mining industry is to see a mechanized and robust industry that produces a processed minerals for export and industrial minerals as raw material for our local industries.”