Nigeria’s Solid Minerals Wealth Valued At $750bn, Says Alake

The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dele Alake, disclosed on Monday that Nigeria currently possesses a deposit of mineral products worth $750 billion.

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The minister revealed this at a two-day national stakeholders’ roundtable on sustainable development of the mining industry organised by the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies with the theme “Sustainable Development of the Mining Industry in Nigeria” in Abuja.

Alake, who noted that the government is working to ensure the country becomes an investor’s destination in solid minerals development, revealed that preliminary reports by a German firm, GeoScan, indicated that the nation is blessed with minerals worth a conservative amount of $750 billion.

The summit, organised in partnership with Bruit Costaud, was to brainstorm possible solutions to the issues faced in the mining sector.

Speaking in his address, Alake said the mining sector has the potential to contribute a large part of the nation’s goal of achieving a trillion-dollar economy, as pushed by the current administration.

He said this is the reason for the insistence on pursuing local value addition in products mined in the country.

He, however, said the availability of data is important to attract investors that will establish plants in Nigeria to process the minerals and create a multiplier effect on job creation and growth in the economy.

Alake said, “We are working with the World Bank, Excalibur and GeoScan, a German company, to get the necessary data on the sector. That is why the federal government signed a memorandum of understanding with Geoscan and they did a preliminary survey of our minerals on the output and potential. They gave us a figure of $750 billion worth of minerals embedded under the ground of Nigeria.”

“That is a conservative estimate; by the time we conduct a serious, accurate data exploration, we will discover that we have trillions of solid minerals embedded under. So, the president’s projection of a one-dollar economy is not a fluke. By the time we are done with all of these efforts, input and policies we are putting in place, trillions of naira will be a child’s play and we will be nudging trillions of dollars.”

According to him, the government was putting in place concrete measures that would shift attention away from fossil fuels to solid minerals as a way of generating revenue for the government.

Alake, while stating the ongoing reforms aimed at revitalising the sector, stressed the importance of preventing Nigeria from remaining solely a “pit-to-port” exporter of solid minerals, with processing and conversion activities outsourced to other countries.

He also said that communities, where solid minerals are extracted, must henceforth derive maximum benefit from solid mineral exploration.

The minister added that part of its reform is the establishment of the Nigerian Solid Minerals Corporation.

He disclosed that the Committee on Solid Minerals Development has initiated the enactment of an act of the National Assembly on the Nigerian Solid Minerals Corporation, which will be a private sector-led limited liability company with a clear mandate of engaging in the business of mining across the entire value chain from upstream to downstream.

He added that the company is expected to create some of the stability the sector requires and spur other private sector activity by catalysing investment inflow across the entire sector.

“When I first read this, a lot of people were taken aback and sceptic because what rang in their minds was NNPC, that is, we are going to establish something similar like NNPC, which is a quasi-government venture. But no, the proposed corporation is vastly different in nomenclature, structure and operation.”

He added that the establishment of the corporation is before the National Assembly and will be driven by the private sector.

“We are proposing 50 per cent of the equity entirely to the private sector, 25 per cent to Nigerians at large and 25 per cent to the government.”

“My objective as your Minister is to work to ensure that Nigeria becomes a mining destination for the first time in its history, and we are working to make this happen by alleviating bottlenecks and salient challenges that have plagued the sector over time, such as security, licencing problems, unclear community engagement/development frameworks, policy inconsistencies, illegal mining on existing licences, and others. With your support, we are committed to overcoming these challenges and putting Nigeria on the global mining map,” he stated.

During his address, Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State commended the ongoing reforms and emphasised that private investment in solid minerals is crucial for driving growth in the sector.

He said lithium is the new gold, and Nigeria has an abundant supply of it, adding that the biggest lithium processing factory will soon be commissioned, processing 4,000 metric tonnes a day and transporting over a million tins of lithium a year.

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Former Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, said the brainstorming session is aimed at bringing key stakeholders in the mining sector from the private sector, government, and civil society together to discuss the current mining landscape in Nigeria and explore potential opportunities for investment facilitation and sectoral development.

The Director General of NIPSS, Ayo Omotayo, said the summit was organised to chart a way forward for the mining sector.

He said, “We must do all we can to take our country to greater heights by ensuring that the critical mining sector contributes its share of a 1 trillion dollar economy in the very few years ahead.

“The question is; Can we achieve the promise of a trillion-dollar economy if the mining sector performs optimally?”

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