by: Andrea Ayemoba
“Nigeria is perhaps the last remaining frontier for mineral investment in the region. With the wide occurrence of minerals and a history of mineral production, Nigeria presents a rare opportunity for serious investors and that opportunity is worth exploring.” This is according to Olayinka O. Mubarak, Group Head, Solid Minerals and Metals, Large Enterprises Directorate, Bank Of Industry in Nigeria. At the upcoming iPAD Nigeria Mining Forum taking place from 18-19 November in Abuja, Ms Mubarak is a panellist during a discussion on “Available financial support for a growing industry”.
The upcoming iPAD Nigeria Mining Forum in partnership withPwC Nigeria, is regarded as a long overdue strategic investment platform that will gather key role players in the Nigerian mining space to discuss the way forward. Nigeria’s vastly underexploited natural resources include about 44 varieties of minerals in over 500 locations. Attendees will include current and prospective investors, legal advisors, regulators, mining professionals and other stakeholders.
The Bank Of Industry and the MRI Group are both silver sponsors at the event. The MRI Group is the world’s 3rd largest independent trader of non-ferrous concentrates. Says Hadley Natus of MRI Trading: “two years ago MRI took the strategic decision to start operations in Nigeria and with the first forum of its kind in Nigeria, we couldn’t afford not to be a part of it.”
He adds: “it is our view that Nigeria has all the prerequisites to enjoy the benefits of building a mining industry from a low base and if managed correctly can be a major factor in increasing the standard of living for many Nigerians and help the government get away from its dependence on oil.”
Multiple challenges in industry
“The main challenges in the industry are multiple”, says Mr Ola Alokolaro, Managing Partner – Head of Energy and Infrastructure Group, Advocaat Law Practice and also a speaker at iPAD Nigeria while Advocaat is also a bronze sponsor. He explains: “firstly is the issue of regulation of mining titles. Whilst a mining cadastre office has been set up and there is better transparency on the issuance of mining tittles, there is still a need for the monitoring of minimum work obligations of licensees; environmental compliance and the enforcement of the ‘use it or lose it’ principle.”
He continues: “secondly, the lack of adequate road and rail infrastructure is a hindrance to mining investments. We should be looking at PPP options to develop infrastructure. A third issue is funding of public mining institutions so as to be able to enforce provisions of the law and lastly access to long term funding to finance a mining project.”
Highly prospective region
During iPAD Nigeria the issue of the lack of infrastructure will be addressed. Carmie Olowoyo, General Manager-corporate, Symbol Base Metals, Australia is a panelist during this session: “given the scale of the workings and expansive distance they cover, it makes for a highly prospective region. The very high grade nature of the mineralisation is almost unique in the world. We are equally excited about the other opportunities that exist in the Nigerian mining sector. For reasons not limited to infrastructure deficiency, oil, security concerns, investor perception and limited modern exploration, the sector is very much underdeveloped.”
He adds: “we are believers in the unique geology of Nigeria and very much encouraged by the renewed Government focus on solid mineral development. We believe the next couple of years will herald an investment boom into Nigeria, for the benefit of all.”
Mining sector gives massive employment
Oluwaseun Olatunji is MD of SBOG Nigeria, another bronze sponsor at the event: “we are a company focused on doing our bit in the development of the mining trade in Nigeria, regardless of the enormous challenges. We don’t believe in waiting on the federal government to do everything; however, we also have minimum expectations from the specific mining government agencies.”
The Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN) is also an official partner of the event. “My excitement about the mining industry in Nigeria is its ability to accommodate every player: small, medium and large” says Alhaji Sani Shehu, the MAN President, “the mining sector also gives massive employment and creates a lot of activities in the rural areas”.
He adds: “My vision for the mining industry is to see a mechanized and robust industry that produces a processed minerals for export and industrial minerals as raw material for our local industries.”
iPAD Nigeria Mining Forum is organised by Spintelligent, leading Cape Town-based trade exhibition and conference organiser, and the African office of Clarion Events Ltd, based in the UK in partnership with PwC Nigeria. www.ipad-nigeria.com
This Post first appeared on Nigeria Business Communities.