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Nigeria’s Mining: Prospects, Challenges and Opportunities

by Adenike Adeodun

Despite its appellation as the “Giant of Africa,” Nigeria’s mining sector has remained largely underdeveloped, overshadowed by the country’s booming oil and gas industry. Yet, Nigeria is endowed with a plethora of minerals, including coal, limestone, gold, tin, and tantalite. The question is: what holds back this sector ripe for explosion?

Challenging Terrain: Regulatory Hurdles and Infrastructure Woes

Nigeria’s complex regulatory landscape presents the first barrier. Ambiguous policies and a tangle of jurisdictional duties between federal and state governments have kept investors at bay. Additionally, issues surrounding land ownership further complicate the sector’s growth trajectory.

Coupled with regulatory challenges is the stark infrastructure deficit. Insufficient transportation networks, erratic power supply, and limited water access escalate operational costs, rendering mining a less enticing venture for would-be investors.

Security Risks and Social Concerns

Mining Review reported that Nigeria’s mining locales are not strangers to security threats, ranging from illegal mining to community conflicts and even armed banditry. These issues deter investments and generate an unstable business atmosphere. 

Additionally, the sector grapples with pressing environmental and social challenges. Particularly in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM), which contributes significantly to Nigeria’s mining output, there are rampant issues such as unregulated mercury use and deforestation, adversely affecting local communities and ecosystems.

Capital Crunch

Lastly, the sector’s limited access to finance cannot be overstated. Banks are often skittish about financing mining projects due to the high risks involved, leaving both small-scale and large-scale operators in a financial quagmire.

Silver Linings: Untapped Opportunities

Amidst these challenges, the mining sector offers a golden opportunity to diversify Nigeria’s oil-dependent economy. A well-harnessed mineral sector can create jobs, stabilize the economy, and even improve the country’s balance of payments through exports.

Recognizing this, the Nigerian government has initiated policy revisions and investor incentives, such as tax breaks and duty-free importation of mining equipment. Additionally, fostering local content can catalyze technology transfer and skill development within the country.

The Road Ahead

Comprehensive policy reforms are vital for Nigeria to leverage its mineral endowments. The government must streamline regulations, offer transparent guidelines, and resolve land tenure issues. Prioritizing infrastructure development in mining hotspots is crucial, and public-private partnerships can be a viable funding avenue.

Enhancing security protocols in mining regions and cultivating a culture of environmental responsibility are equally important. Tailored financial products, developed in collaboration with financial institutions, could solve the sector’s capital accessibility problem.


Nigeria’s mining sector is a sleeping giant with immense economic potential. Addressing its myriad challenges necessitates a concerted effort from government bodies, industry stakeholders, and the global community. Armed with the right policies and sustainable practices, Nigeria could well become the mineral powerhouse it aspires to be.


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