The potential exists for Nigeria to develop a solid minerals sector as large as oil and gas as a proportion of GDP in the coming years. Proven deposits of coal in the South East, iron ore in the Middle Belt, limestone in the North West, are such that Nigeria could rely on its own reserves for construction materials and electricity generation for decades. Nevertheless, the sector has been confronted with major challenges, and its share of GDP has reduced to less than 3%. How can Nigeria unleash growth for solid minerals?
In order to attract private large amounts of private investment, sector governance has already seen major improvements. The modernization of the Mining Cadastre Office and the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency have enabled swift access to information and a solid regulatory interface for economic operators. The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has itself created internal structures for investment promotion in 2012.
A great deal of information is now available on Nigerian minerals, courtesy of Federal Agencies. Deposits are considered comparable to South Africa, a mining reference.
Nevertheless, challenges remain, most critically the question of infrastructure, especially in the area of transport and supply of power, which are key to mining and transformation of mineral products. Nigeria’s current opportunities lie in the strong nationally-owned artisanal and semi-artisanal sector, centered notably around cassiterite, precious stones and metals. The potential for increase in value-added is immense, with national ownership a source of increased income for the country. Devising of specific financial products and a look at how to tackle economic risk in that particular part of the sector constitute national priorities the Federal Government is looking at currently.