Making mining Nigeria’s next oil

Nigeria is looking forward to mining dislodging oil as a major revenue earner. Consequently, the Ministry of Mines & Steel Development is offering various mouth-watering fiscal and regulatory incentives to woe investors. The incentives, industry stakeholders say, could make Nigeria a global destination of choice for investors in mining, if sustained. Assistant Editor CHIKODI OKEREOCHA reports

The last couple of months have been particularly demanding for the Minister of Mines & Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite. The prevailing economic realities caused by the double shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic and revenue shortfall resulting from the crash in oil prices have put him on his toes, as the search for a sector with the potential to reboot the economy appears to focus on the mining sector.

The devastating impacts of the deadly COVID-19 virus and dwindling oil prices have forced a strategic refocus on other sectors considered as high growth sectors particularly mining. Consequently, Adegbite has rolled up his sleeves and gone to work to further open the mining sector to increased trade and foreign investments.

Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA) Director-General Dr. Abdulrazaq Garba said: “The mining sector is all about data, quality data for investment decision making. The process of mining or extraction of what is in the earth crust requires understanding of how the earth crust preserves these mineral commodities.”

NGSA is a parastatal under the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development. It is the nation’s custodian of all geosciences information. Established in 2006, the Agency’s statutory role is to provide relevant and up-to-date geosciences information necessary for economic development.

Garba told The Nation that a bankable geosciences data in the mining ecosystem is private sector-driven, because “There is a limit to government spending on mineral resources evaluation and exploration.”

He, however, said NGSA strives to provide beyond the basics, offering several layers of information required to boost investors’ confidence in the nation’s mining space.

Garba added that the Agency was developing a state-of-the-art infrastructure that will make accessibility to geosciences data much easier than it used to be in the past for the exploration of the vast mineral resources within the country.

The NGSA boss also said the minister has been supportive of the sector through the promotion of the National Integrated Mineral Exploration Project (NIMEP), standardisation of NGSA laboratories, good governance and institutional reforms in the mining sector, among others. NIMEP is the Federal Government’s flagship rapid response to the dearth of investible geoscience data in the mining sector.

“We are continuing to upgrade and expand our data base to de-risk the Nigerian mining jurisdiction to make our potentials more palatable to investors,” Adegbite told The Nation.

The NGSA, which coordinates the NIMEP project, is also said to have undertaken additional ground investigations nationwide to upgrade the national minerals data base to a more investible level.

Source: The Nation