Experts call for urgent interventions to address sector challenges
Total revenue from the solid mineral sector in Nigeria in the past nine years stands at about N262 billion, maintaining a slow rise from N8.1 billion in 2007 to N65.7 billion in 2015.
Analysis of data provided in the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) audit dashboard showed that the country’s revenue from the sector in 2008 stood at N9.5 billion and moved to N19.4 billion in 2009. In 2010, the figure declined to N17.3 billion but moved to N26.9 billion, N31.4 billion, N33.8 billion in 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively. In 2014, the revenue went to N49.6 billion before hitting N65.7 billion in 2015.
However, while the total royalty earned for the period under review stood at N7.4 billion, the total metric tons of solid mineral produced in the country stood at about 330 million metric tons with contributions from limestones hovering at 54.5 per cent of the total production.
According to the report, production of solid mineral reached the peak in 2014, when the country produced about 47 million metric tons of solid mineral while the lowest production was recorded in 2007 when the country produced about 13 million metric tons of solid minerals.
Though Nigeria is blessed with numbers of solid minerals, including coal, lignite and Coke, gold, columbite wolframite and tantalite, bitumen, iron ore, uranium, mining of minerals only accounts for 0.5 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a situation blamed on the influence of vast oil resources.
Chief Executive Officer, EPINA Technologies Limited, Prof. Eguakhide Oaikhinan, noted that while the sector could add as much as $50 billion (about N15.3 trillion) to the nation’s GDP by climbing from 0.5 per cent to 10 per cent growth, government has been insensitive to the call for the overhaul of the sector.
“Everybody seems to be concerned with oil or the mining of the minerals. In the raw state, these mined minerals sell at very low prices but when characterised and processed, it could have very competitive market value for the country,” he noted.
While the Advisory Partner and Mining Leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Nigeria, Cyril Azobu, told The Guardian that Nigeria is a fast evolving mining jurisdiction, he insisted that the sector could contribute much more given that most of the country’s rich solid minerals endowment remain largely untapped.
He noted that the lack of proper policy in the sector remained a basic challenge there must be tackled if the desired objective would be achieved in the sector.
Azobu said: “There has over the years been a preponderance of largely informal operations fraught with the use of crude equipment and extremely dangerous working practices because of the absence of a formal policy on artisanal mining.
“We have a situation where for a very long time the solid minerals sector was neglected by the government. The agriculture sector also suffered from this neglect. Because of this, the sector has remained underdeveloped with no real structures put in place by successive governments to unlock its potential.”