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Monday, June 17, 2024


Highpoints On Solid Minerals Mining In Nigeria

Enterprise Issues

 with Siaka Momoh

The following are high are highpoints of solid minerals mining in Nigeria. Government may find the list a useful working paper:

  • Mining is one of the oldest economic activities in Nigeria, with evidence of iron-working civilization around the Nok area in Kaduna State from 340BC. Around 704AD bronze works civilization around Igbo Ukwu reached its peak. Some 1,000 years ago, the “Golden lands of Wangara” in the Hausa Kingdoms were famous for their gold. Ife and Benin bronze works flourished in the 13th and 17th centuries respectively.

  • Organized mining in Nigeria started in 1903 and reached its peak after the Second World War with exports of coal, columbite, tin and lead. At a point, Nigeria was the leading producer and exporter of tin.
  • The now troubled city of Jos was born and flourished largely due to the influx of people and resources in search of economic opportunities of the mining boom. Enugu was for a while the capital of the Southern Protectorate because of the coal mining that started around there in 1916.
  • Today, mining offers Nigeria potentials for job creation, foreign exchange earnings, domestic production and consumption, tax revenue and diversification of our economy from dependence on oil. It can contribute up to 3 per cent of GDP and employ at least a million people, moving most of them to middle-class status.
  • The contribution of the solid minerals sector to the Nigerian economy has collapsed from about one per cent at independence to about 0.3 per cent of GDP in 2010, and it employs only a few thousand people.
  • The industry is grossly under-developed leading to a situation where we import minerals that we could produce domestically such as Barites, salt and iron ore.
  • Compare this with South Africa where in 2009, mining directly accounted for about 9 per cent of GDP, one-third of the total capitalization of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and employed 500,000 people, or with the US where mining provides about 670,000 direct jobs.
  • In Australia, about 320,000 direct jobs are attributable to the mining sector. In Canada, mining provides employment for about 200,000 people. In South Africa, mining contributes another half a million indirect job in addition to direct jobs, focused on only a handful of minerals! Nigeria has huge reserves of 34 solid minerals and virtually no jobs!
  • Globally the mining industry has enjoyed strong economic growth for the past decade. Demand for solid mineral resources from rapidly growing nations like China and India is on the rise, while Canada supplied minerals with a total estimated value of $45.3 billion in 2008.
  • Today, mining accounts for 3.5 per cent of Canada’s GDP. Nigeria is losing huge amounts of foreign exchange that it could have earned considering the tremendous growth in the demand for minerals in the global market.
  • Nigeria’s coal was highly valued for its low levels of sulphur and impurities. There are 22 coalfields spread across 13 states with proven reserve of 639 million tonnes, and inferred reserves of 2,750 million tonnes.
  • Up till the late 1960s, coal was the source of the entire energy requirement for the country’s industrial sector, which included Nigeria Railways, National Electric Power Authority and Nigeria Cement Corporation (NCC), Nkalagu.
  • According to the Ministry of Mines, Coal export or usage for electricity generation is capable of earning or saving Nigeria up to $6 billion per annum. Applying our coal to generate electricity would yield 7,000mw which can be the national base load, supplemented by other sources for the next 30 years.
  • The NCC was a state-owned monopoly established in 1950 to engage in the exploration, production and marketing of our coal. It was successful until the outbreak of the Nigerian civil war. It never recovered from the years of mine closure and was privatized via liquidation by the BPE in 2007. None of the resulting investors has started production since then.
  • Gold is another mineral we have in commercial quantities in Osun, Oyo, Kwara, Zamfara, Kebbi and Kaduna States. Between 1933 and 1943 when production peaked, Nigeria exported some 3.2 million ounces of gold! With the privatization via liquidation of the Nigerian Mining Corporation (NMC) in 2007, it is gratifying that some domestic and multinational companies that acquired some of its mining leases are pursuing gold mining opportunities, supplementing the efforts of our indigenous small scale, artisanal miners.
  • Tantalite is a rare metal needed by high technology and aerospace industries. Nigeria has the second largest reserves of tantalite in the world, occurring as Tantalum-Niobium, and available in a belt stretching from Nassarawa State and FCT across to Ilesa in Osun State.
  • We have huge deposits of Lead and Zinc in Benue, Kogi, Ebonyi and Nassarawa States among others. Large deposits of iron ore, reputed to be the largest in Africa have been found in Zamfara State as well.
  • We have bitumen and tar sands equivalent to 13 billion barrels of oil in a belt stretching from Lagos and Edo to Ondo and Ogun States. Each of these minerals is worth billions of dollars in revenue annually and hundreds of thousands of jobs.
  • We are also endowed with large deposits of Limestone, Kaolin and Gypsum that can be processed to meet the cement requirement of the African continent for the next two decades. There are large deposits of talc spread across the country that have the potential to earn about $3 billion annually.

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