Mining is one of the oldest economic activities in Nigeria. Organised mining in Nigeria started in 1903.
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 employ at least 3million people, moving most of them to middle-class status.
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. Demand for solid mineral resources from rapidly growing nations like China and India is on the rise
For example, 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 has proven reserves of 34 solid minerals in commercial quantities. Unlike the oil enclaves we have identified so far, these minerals are widely spread across 450 locations in most of the 36 states of the federation and FCT. No state or region will be left behind when we exploit our mining potentials.
So if solid minerals are God’s gift to our nation, and we have the people to put to work on them, why have we not done so? What are the lessons to learn from the past successes and failures? What can we learn from countries like Mali, Tanzania, Ghana and South Africa that have become attractive destinations for mining investments?
What more can we do as a nation to unlock the potentials in solid minerals? We will look at a few minerals to attempt answers. 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 solid mineral sector offers viable prospects for mining, mineral processing and the manufacture of a host of intermediate raw materials for local industries as well as for foreign exchange earnings. It presents the opportunity for diversifying Nigeria’s hitherto petroleum-dominated economy. Improving the Nigerian mining industry would help curb the growing level of unemployment, move rural miners into middle class and reduce poverty.
Solid Minerals Hold The Key To Nigeria’s Future – Tope Adebanjo