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Nigeria’s Mining Sector: A New Dawn or More of the Same?

Nigeria's mining sector has undergone reforms to revamp the industry and attract more investment

by Victor Adetimilehin

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, has a long history of mining, but the sector has been plagued by various challenges, such as illegal activities, environmental degradation, insecurity, and lack of regulation. In 2023, the government announced a series of reforms to revamp the industry and attract more investment. But will these measures be enough to transform the mining sector and make it a key driver of economic growth and development?


Reforms and Revocations

One of the main steps taken by the government was to revoke more than 1,600 mining licenses of defaulting firms that failed to pay their annual service fees. According to the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dele Alake, this was done to sanitize the industry and weed out unscrupulous operators. He also said that more revocations were in the offing for other categories of defaulters in 2023.


Based on a report by Premium Times, the minister also reiterated the vision of President Bola Tinubu to diversify the economy through a renewed focus on solid minerals, which he said was on course. He outlined a 7-point agenda that included creating an efficient governance structure, tackling insecurity and illegal mining, enhancing exploration activities, and prioritizing value addition for prospective investors.


The minister disclosed that the government had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a German firm, GeoScan GmbH, for the deployment of proprietary technology to explore minerals up to 10,000m under the earth. He said this would generate big geo-data required for global players to make informed decisions about investing in the industry.


Challenges and Opportunities

However, despite the government’s efforts, the mining sector still faces many hurdles that could hamper its growth and potential. Some of these include:

– Lack of adequate infrastructure, such as roads, rail, and power, that are essential for the transportation and processing of minerals.

– Poor enforcement of laws and regulations, as well as corruption and bureaucracy, that create loopholes and bottlenecks for investors and miners.

– Environmental and social impacts, such as land degradation, pollution, health hazards, and conflicts, that result from mining activities and affect the livelihoods and well-being of the people and the ecosystem.


On the other hand, the mining sector also offers immense opportunities for Nigeria to leverage its rich and diverse mineral resources, such as gold, iron ore, coal, limestone, and gemstones, to boost its economy and create jobs. Some of these include:

– Increasing the contribution of the mining sector to the gross domestic product (GDP), which is currently less than 1%, and generating more revenue for the government through taxes and royalties.

– Creating linkages and synergies with other sectors, such as agriculture, manufacturing, and services, that could benefit from the supply and demand of minerals and related products.

– Enhancing the value chain and beneficiation of minerals, by developing local industries and skills that could process and refine raw materials into finished products or intermediate inputs.

– Promoting sustainable and inclusive development, by ensuring that mining activities are environmentally friendly, socially responsible, and beneficial to the host communities and stakeholders.


A New Dawn or More of the Same?

The mining sector in Nigeria has a long way to go before it can realize its full potential and become a major player in the global market. The government’s reforms are commendable, but they need to be implemented effectively and consistently, with the involvement and cooperation of all the relevant actors and institutions. 


The challenges are daunting, but not insurmountable if there is political will and commitment, as well as innovation and collaboration. The opportunities are enormous, but not guaranteed if there is vision and strategy, as well as investment and regulation. The future of the mining sector in Nigeria depends on the choices and actions of today. Will it be a new dawn or more of the same?

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