African Mining Network

AMN was established to develop and build relationships across Africa’s mining community, and give the world a preview of what is happening in mining in Africa.

AMN - Nigeria determined to benefit from mining – comment by Yolanda Torrisi

Yol headshot May 2011

There are many opportunities in Nigeria’s mining sector with some of the world’s highest-grade mineral deposits found in the country. It seems that the government is keen to realise the benefits that mining can bring to the country by its intention to establish the Nigerian Mining Commission.

The government is also spending N20 billion more on data exploration to make it easier to locate deposits.

The measures are being implemented to provide more predictability in the mining sector and to boost local and international investment.

The commission is intended to take charge of the regulatory role of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.

This plan was disclosed during the Nigeria Day event at the ongoing African Mining Indaba, in Cape Town, South Africa.

Minister of Mines and Steel Development Kayode Fayemi said the law setting up the commission was already with the National Assembly.

Also during the event, the country's new airborne electromagnetic survey results were presented while mining experts, operators and development agencies gave endorsements for the mining sector reforms.

The minister said the government was determined to strengthen regulation in the sector as well as ensure the improvement of its geological data.

He said the commission would not only be the final authority on regulatory matters, but would also take charge of mining leases.

Minister Fayemi said the delivery of the geological data, was in line with government’s desire to ensure bankable geological data that would be an incentive to investors.

He stated further that the ministry would undertake more extensive electromagnetic airborne geological surveys of some promising parts of the country this year, as well as complete a National Mineral Database.

“We want to ensure predictability, it is what we want to offer. We want to be a big mining designation. To achieve this, we have to put certain things in place, including provable data, sound regulations, and capacity building for artisanal and small-scale miners as well as access to funding."

It appears the government is also determined to enhance its collaboration with state governments and host communities through the establishment of the National Council on Mining and Minerals Development Council, in which the states will play active roles.

It is encouraging that the government is seeking to encourage more mining investment, but it is also important that the country takes heed of how mining has developed in mining jurisdictions such as Australia and seek partnering arrangements to benefit from Australia's expertise.

During an event, Australian High Commissioner to Nigeria Paul Lehmann said Australia was interested in enhancing its partnership with Nigeria in the area of mining.

He said there were enormous opportunities in Nigeria’s mining sector. “For us, it is not all about gaining expertise, or the experience but also the willingness to engage with countries that are invigorating their mineral sector.

“For our Australian mining companies, Nigeria should be seen as a land of opportunity.

“Certainly, there are challenges in Nigeria, but it is so for any mining company when it comes to infrastructure, and other elements of doing business.

“What we want to do is to work together with the Nigerian government to make the connections between the expertise, the experience, the know-how and the equipment, and the investment fund in some cases.”

Yolanda Torrisi is Chairperson of The African Mining Network and comments on African mining issues and the growing global interest in the continent.