Home » Nigeria Eyes Lucrative Deep Sea Mining with Commonwealth Support

Nigeria Eyes Lucrative Deep Sea Mining with Commonwealth Support

A meeting between a Nigerian delegation and the Commonwealth Secretariat discussed how to develop the country’s policy and strategy for deep sea mining, as well as to attract investment and partnerships.

by Motoni Olodun

Nigeria is exploring the potential of deep-sea mining in its coastal waters, according to a recent meeting between a national delegation and the Commonwealth Secretariat. The discussion was initiated by Dele Alake, minister of solid minerals development, who visited the institution last week.

Deep-sea mining is the extraction of minerals from the seabed, usually at depths of 200 meters or more. It is seen as a way to access valuable resources such as copper, cobalt, nickel, gold, and rare earth elements, which are used in various industries and technologies. However, it also poses environmental and social risks, such as damage to marine ecosystems, pollution, conflicts with other users of the ocean, and potential human rights violations.

The Commonwealth Secretariat is the main intergovernmental agency of the Commonwealth, a voluntary association of 56 independent and equal countries, mostly former British colonies. It supports member countries in achieving the Commonwealth’s aims of development, democracy, and peace. It also provides technical assistance and policy advice on various issues, including trade, oceans, and natural resources.

According to the Commonwealth website, the Secretariat has been working with several Pacific island countries, such as Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, and Vanuatu, to develop their legal and regulatory frameworks for deep-sea mining, as well as to enhance their capacity to manage and monitor the sector. It has also been facilitating regional and international cooperation and dialogue on the governance of deep-sea mining, especially concerning the International Seabed Authority (ISA), the UN body that oversees the exploration and exploitation of the seabed beyond national jurisdiction.

The meeting between the Nigerian delegation and the Commonwealth Secretariat was aimed at exploring how the Commonwealth could assist Nigeria in developing its policy and strategy for deep-sea mining, as well as attracting investment and partnerships with international miners. Nigeria, as a coastal country, has a large maritime area that could potentially host rich deposits of minerals. However, the country lacks the necessary infrastructure, technology, and expertise to explore and exploit them.

The minister of solid minerals development, Dele Alake, said that President Bola Tinubu has identified the solid minerals sector as a pillar of Nigeria’s current efforts to diversify the economy. He said that the ministry has developed a seven-point agenda that includes the establishment of a solid minerals company, gathering of big data on mineral reserves, improved security, and socio-economic development of mining communities. He said that the Commonwealth, as an institution that has developed expertise over many years, should support Tinubu’s administration.

The senior director of trade, oceans, and natural resources at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Paul Kautoke, commended the delegation for visiting the institution. He said that Nigeria could explore the profitable prospects of deep-sea mining, as well as the challenges and opportunities it presents. He said that the Commonwealth could assist Nigeria in developing a policy that would ensure the sustainable development of the country’s deep seabed resources, in line with the Commonwealth Charter and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Other officials from the Commonwealth Secretariat also addressed the forum, highlighting the progress and best practices in the deep sea mining sector, as well as the concerns and gaps that need to be addressed. They also offered to provide training, capacity building, and technical support to Nigeria, as well as to facilitate knowledge sharing and networking with other Commonwealth countries and stakeholders.

The minister of solid minerals development, Dele Alake, said that the discussion has brought a new dimension to mineral development and promised that the ministry would study the dimension of deep sea mining in collaboration with other ministries and put together a country proposal for further consideration.

The meeting between Nigeria and the Commonwealth Secretariat is a sign of the growing interest and potential of deep sea mining in Africa and beyond. It also reflects the role of the Commonwealth as a platform for cooperation and partnership among its diverse and dynamic members.

Source: The Guardian Nigeria

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