MINING IN NIGERIAN
The Nigerian Opportunity: Going for Gold, But the future holds a lot more. Nigeria today is in a wave of market reforms in many segments of its Economy including the privatization of government-owned companies and mining assets. After years of dithering and being weighed down under squandered oil revenues and rising debt levels, the government finally demonstrated the political will to implement market friendly policies. To that end, Nigeria, over the past couple of years, deregulated fuel prices, began privatizing the country’s four oil refineries and began a program of fiscal and monetary management. More recently, the country has attempted to modernize the banking system, reduce inflation through mechanisms such as curbing rampant wage increases, and has begun to develop a mechanism for a more equitable transfer of its oil revenues, which has become a source of major internal conflicts.
Nigeria is also undergoing a political transformation of enormous proportion. For the past eight years, the country has seen uninterrupted civilian rule, which is the longest since independence. The April 2007 elections will see the first civilian-to-civilian transfer of power in the history of the country, making its attempts at economic reform all the more meaningful. One of the major failures of the previous military regimes was the inability to diversify the economy away from its dependence on oil revenues. Developing the country’s solid mineral wealth promises to have a considerable impact on the economy since mineral deposits are geographically spread across more than 450 communities in the country. The oil industry on the other hand has concentrated in the swamps of the Niger delta.
According to Steve Vaughn, a partner at Heenan Blaikie Business Law Group and a leading expert on international mining law, Nigeria’s mineral sector has not historically received “enough attention as other countries in the region did from investors, but that is changing now’”. Some potentially serious investors, however, have sounded a note of caution on the type of companies that may be attracted to Nigeria’s new liberal mining environment. ‘Nigeria will have to derive rules to keep out the suitcase companies, i.e. those that simply enter to acquire lucrative licenses only to sell them later at a huge profit”, says J. Howard Bills, senior exploration manager, Axmin Inc, a Toronto-based gold mining company.
World Class Minerals
The mineral spread in Nigeria is significant with evidence of 34 different minerals distributed in Nigeria’s richly endowed geology. Though not all the mineral occurrences will ultimately have enough reserves to be of viable interest to mining companies, the Nigerian government is leaving no stone unturned in its increasingly sustained efforts to delineate and objectively demonstrate the potential and encourage investments in all .
“Nigeria has excellent and very significant deposits of tantalite, which are world class. It also has good quality lead and zinc properties with good commercial potential”, says Barey Guarnera of Behre Dolbear & Co Ltd, a consulting company dedicated to the minerals industry. However, the west African geology is replete with gold deposits. Gold is a miners dream right now considering the huge spread between gold prices and production costs and that is precisely the mineral that is attracting the most attention as far as Nigeria is concerned. The government is also keen on following a strategy that would bring in the miners quickly. “we have to be realistic about focusing on the most promising minerals”, says Nigeria’s former minister of mines, Leslye Obiora.
New Greenfield mines are not the only option. Nigeria has several previously explored mines that could be re-opened. The gold mining opportunity in Nigeria could be very much like that of Ghana, where abandoned mines could be re-developed, says Steven Dattal, a financier and former CFO of Barrick Gold. “Nigeria has several high grade gold mines but with modern technology we could also work the low grade mines, thus significantly increasing the country’s mining potential,” he added.
The biggest investment that Nigeria needs to make is in it’s infrastructure. Without adequate power, roads and ports, the development of the mining industry is going to remain a pie in the sky. Power shortages are endemic in Nigeria and the gap between peak demand and production is 7,000MW. The government’s energy plan for the next few years has been worked out and the contribution from coal-fired plants has been puts at 25 percent of the total energy requirement. The government is pipelining efforts to ensure that the energy sector needs are being addressed parallel to developing its mining opportunities.
Coal Mining: A Key Focus
Given the implications that continued power shortages have for the Nigeria economy, coal mining seems to be an area of immediate development concern, especially considering that Nigeria has proven deposits of over 1.5 billion tons, after only partial exploration. The advantages of coal mining is that though it is open to mining companies, the government is not dependent on them. Thermal power-generating companies would happily takeover the responsibility of developing coalmines since it would automatically, build fuel linkages with their power generating plants. The focus on developing coal mines will also speed up development of the power infrastructure, since plants will come up at the pithead to avoid haulage costs and the national grid will also get built up to transmit power across the country.
Rapidly developing its coal industry is in Nigeria’s best interest but the interest of foreign investors is in exploiting the most attractively priced mineral, gold. The price of gold in the international market today is nearly three times its production cost. “coal should be a key target given the energy aspect and the opportunity for large coal mining projects for power generation exists, especially since there are handsome coal properties in Nigeria,” says Barey Guarnera. “coal mining will remain critical because of the peak load deficit factor. But the focus on industrial commodities is critical for the development of the metals and mining sector,” says Leslie Maasdorp, vice Chairman, Barclays Capital and Absa Capital. “The focus on industrial commodities will broaden the universe of mining companies interested in investment in Nigeria”, he says. Clearly the message is that the government has to look over the long term and focus on what is important for its overall development and not be swayed by short-term market factors. That said, the opportunity is clearly waiting for those mining companies willing to take the plunge into Nigeria. And to do that, many companies willing to overlook most shortcomings. “There is no need to convince mining companies about negative issues, they are experts at assessing this risk for themselves,” says Rizwan Haider, regional manager, sub-saharan Africa, Export Development Canada, a Canadian government agency which works with Canadian companies doing business with other countries especially in the emerging markets. Putting up the infrastructure will be a prerequisite for large scale investment.
An unshakable fact is captured by professor Obiora’s apt reminder that “ if you build it they will come”. So if the opportunity is there and the bottom line looks favorable, miners are notoriously hardy and they will not necessarily be deterred by infrastructural constraints and other confluence of factors. The high risk appetite of miners is evident in their persistence in active conflict zones where they have records of catering to relevant infrastructural needs.
BETTING ON NIGERIA
The Giant Heart of Africa
For long.West Africa has been a destination of choice for mining executives the world over, with countries like Burkina Faso,Ghana,Ivory Coast and Niger being actively explored and mined.Now, Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria,fortuitously located in this remarkably prospective region, is opening up its mining sector and taking aggressive step to woo foreign mining companies as it seeks to become an alternate mining destination.Gold has been the predominant mineral of choice in the region.But Nigeria, thus far known for its oil and gas deposits (tenth – largest reserves in the world and third – largest after OPEC at 36 billion barrels), is now offering a whole range of 34 solid minerals including precious metals,base metal, rate earths and minerals such as uranium to prospective miners for development.
While Nigeria opens
its mining industry it also seeks to battle negative perceptions that
have bedeviled it through years of military rule and socio-econmic
crisis. The present government’s reform commitment is progressively
boosting the confidence of investors. A mining industry always existed
in Nigeria and prior to independence in 1960,it was the dominant industry
controlled by British firms. But investors were left with a bad taste after
the mining sector was completely nationalized in the 1970’s as the
country sought to recover from a devastating civil war. All foreign investors
left the country and many of them of them have had strong reservation about
reengaging with the country until the recent past, when they have seen
a steady path of growth and unflinching political support to attract foreign
direct investment. Understandably, the years of dormancy meant that the
mines deteriorated and production fell sharply, especially since the state
owned companies were neglected with neither technological equipment nor
conditions for efficient performance. After the discovery of oil in the
1960s, the government’s focus swung to developing its oil resources
and that focus has remained to date to the continued detriment of the mining
sector. But with the unprecedented boom in commodity prices, especially
for solid minerals, the Nigeria government decided to revisit the mining
sector and emphasize the opportunity there to global investors.
Since june 2006 and until the end of March 2007, Nigeria has had a dynamic minister appointed to the country’s mining and steel development portfoli, professor Lesiye Obiora.Despite a short tenure, Professor Obiora has credited with helping push through new legislation that has redefined the Nigerian mining sector and opened an unprecedented opportunity for domestic and foreign investors looking for fresh untapped mineral resources. She has since been replaced as the Nigeria Minister of Mines and Steel Development by Bala Borodo.
An interview with Prof. Leslye Obiora, who has led planning for Nigeria’s mining sector as Minister for Mines and Steel Development for most of the past year.As Nigeria opens up its mining sector and begins to attract foreign mining companies, it faces negative perceptions and a large number of skeptics. How is the Nigeria government going about tackling it? Since you been hard selling Nigeria as a mining destination what has been your assessment of the response?
Unfortunately, Nigeria has a reputational disadvantage as far as foreigners are concerned. But it is impractical for the government to focus on constantly rebuffing these negative perceptions and to keep having to defend ourselves. The best strategy t address the Nigerian mystique is to keep doing what we have been doing for the country. The negative perception is certainly a hamstring, but its significance pales in light of objective evidence that we have what it takes to hold our own as a competitive mining destination in the mining sector, where I have been pushing the opportunity to all those willing to listen during visits to several cities all over the world .Some of those who came to see me at these meetings may well have come to scorn but ultimately stayed to pray, so to say. Various entities that followed up with invitation to visit the country were sufficiently impressed to apply for licenses and have now become third party advocate for our purpose. Even Nigeria expatriates were tentative at first to come back, but now it seems that some of them cannot get enough of the country. Many would agree with my analogy of the country of an acquired taste that becomes an addition. My standard invitation to people outside of Nigeria is to come and see for themselves the changes that have come about. We have invested enormous energy in marketing and promoting the sector within and outside Nigeria.
has been to systematically survey our resources, embed investor-friendly
raise awareness of the mining sector’s potential in Nigeria
and that in turn will help dispelling myths.
My message to the global investment and corporate community is that Nigeria is open for business; the processes and structure we are putting in place speak for themselves – come and see that for your self.
What can investors expect in Nigeria today? What are the fiscal and other incentive being offered by the Nigeria government to prospective investors in the country’s mining sectors?
We have gone through great lengths to demonstrate our good faith in facilitating an investor – friendly environment. A cornerstone of our efforts has been the brand new legislation that we have just unveiled.The mere fact that this legislation was signed the very morning that we had our Mining Investment Conference speaks volumes about the extent to which the respective arms of the government would go to create conducive climate for minerals development. As of mid-December 2006 when plans for the conference kicked into place, much about the terrain, especially the election primaries suggested that the law would not see the light of the day on schedule. However, the legislators perceived the urgent need for the law and the implication for the development of agenda. Accordingly, they took great pains and worked very hard to ensure that the law was passed to coincide with the conference. Political factions and congressional staffers closed ranks and some worked round the clock to ensure the promulgation of the bill which had been widely canvassed and celebrated by the mining community as a best practice example. To my mind, the act was proof that Nigeria not only works but sentiment. Highlights of the critically acclaimed legislation include generous incentives, tenure security and sustainable resource development.
How friendly our mining policies are today can be seen from the fact that even the World Bank took issue with the scope of incentives we were willing to concede. They maintained that the fiscal regime articulated in the proposed bill was far too generous and above acceptable norms. While we revisited the proposal, we still erred on the side of a liberal trade-off. The point is that the domino effect of catalyzing a robust mining industry is bound to adjust for much of what could be reoccupied through taxes. For us, the bottom-line is to demonstrate our fierce competitiveness as a choice mining jurisdiction and attract the caliber of operations that would reinforce the laudable efforts of the government to deliver on the social contract.
The federal Government of Nigeria declared 2007 as the minerals and mines
year to augment the visibility of the mining sector in the country, lay
the ground work for constructive community engagement and participation
in minerals development, reaffirm the strategic implications of the sectior
and redouble efforts to develop the sector.
Could you elaborate on few of the legislative changes that have been enacted?
A major thrust of the new mineral policy is the emphasis on private sector
participation in the exploitation of solid minerals and in the sustainable
development of the local communities. Some of the highlight of the legislative
changes would be permitting capital allowance of 95 percent on all certified
exploration, development and processing expenditures. Second, there is
an exemption from paying customs and other import duties on plant and machinery.
Third, grant of expatriate quote. Fourth, we’re permitting an annul capital cost indexation. And last, we are deferring the royalty payable to the government for a specific period.
While we are offering significant concessions to mining companies, at the same time we are also insisting on the requirement of beneficiation with downstream facilities. In other words, we want to encourage the creation of downstream industries and not just permit the export of minerals or raw materials. We want to be exporters of value added items too.
Any reform measure required a fair amount of commitment to build the institutions needed to carry out those reforms and maintain it in the future? Is Nigeria building those institutions?
Yes, the management of this process is very critical and our government is taking it seriously. Our first task is bureaucratic reform. We have utilized a UNDP grant and hired global consulting firm KPMG that has deputized a 15-member team to work on an institutional review and make recommendations for its transformation. In a sense, we are outsourcing the management building process to them. McKinsey & Co.has been engaged for an 18 week program that is designed to bring in best practices from the private sector to the government.
We will also bring in transparency in the process through which minor companies can obtain licenses. The licensing process will be based on objectives can obtain licenses. The licensing process will be based bring in tandem with our global consultants. In addition to this, the and UNDP.DIFID in particular has been very supportive. The UNDP and that a lot of what we are doing will facilitate good governance and that the mining ministry is the premier reform mining in Nigeria. It is clear that we have the goodwill of the agencies.
We are also putting in place dispute resolution mechanisms. There have been recurring conflicts between the federal and local governments on the jurisdiction.
Over mineral deposits. There have also been conflicts with the host communities
where the mines are located. The mechanism is in place to handle these
conflicts and contain them expeditiously.
We also have to provide for trained manpower to drive the evolution in the mining industry in Nigeria. We have launched the Nigerian institute for Mining and Geosciences, which will evolve over time as a premier earth science institute.
This is a successor institute to the Nigeria School of Mines and will be a world- class center of excellence. The government has been generous in providing the necessary funding for this effort. We are also in providing the necessary funding for this effort. We are also in conversation with elite mining institutions globally to partner with us in developing the manpower needed to power the Nigeria mining industry.
Our effort at creating these institutions is part of our attempt to create an irresistible mining destination for global capital
You have made a number of trips to mining conferences over the past six to eight months in an attempt to woo mining companies and sell Nigeria as an emerging mining destination. What has been the response to overtures so far?
We are beginning
to see the rising tide of enthusiasm from mining companies. They are
to the passion that we have brought to bear. Mining
is a buyer’s market today. Companies have been to mining conferences
in South-Africa, Canada, China and Australia and have gone and met with
mining executives in these places. We are now preparing to go to Europeans
Capitals. People who can make it happen. And we have been successful in
germinating the idea of a mining venture in Nigeria.
We cannot do this alone and we need creative solutions to accelerate the developmsent of the mining sector. Companies have to realize for themselves that we have come a long way to making ourselves attractive as an investment destination.
Why did Nigeria choose this moment of all others to reform its mining industry and actively woo investors? Why was the initiative dormant all this time despite the immense mining potential and the decade-old knowledge of its favourable geology?
As you know, the Nigerian economy is dominated by the oil industry. Globally, Nigeria is known for its oil and is one of the key players in the energy industry. As a result of this, the government emphasized the development of the oil fields at the cost of other sectors. The mining sector was dominant for a long time. And we felt that it was about time we regroup. With the prices of commodities rapidly rising in the world, we feel it is the right time to reorganize the sector and build it up. But irrespective of what is happening in the world now and irrespective of what the market is doing, the government has a responsibility to develop the mining sector. Our unique geology is a natural endowment and we have to make the most of it. Also, Nigeria did not experience the rush of mining companies that came looking for gold in the neighbouring countries and that may be fortuitous since companies will now be coming in when prices are at very high levels.
Having decided to open the mining sector to private investment, the government’s approach is a testimony to how the various arms of the government work. Who said that things don’t work in Nigeria? The legislative assembly worked until 2:00 AM to clean up the act. The ministry bureaucrats had worked tirelessly to table the legislation. The legislation is an accumulation of good will that exists in the administration. The lower house of parliament passed the legislation in June 2006 and the senate got it only in January 2007, which was subsequently passed on February 2, 2007. The seamless efficiency with which the various arms of the government worked demonstrated our seriousness.
What are the next steps for the government to develop the mining sector?
The next stage is generating the geosciences data and mapping of the country. The government has already completed airborne geophysical
mapping of 44 percent of the country. The program to complete mapping the remaining
56 percent will be launched soon. Even the funding for this is available through a $25 million portion of a UN facility.
There are also plans to build up the country’s physical infrastructure. The African development Bank is partnering with the government in these plans for the infrastructure. Right now we are constrained in infrastructure, whether it is road, railways and energy. A total of US$8 billion alone is planned to be invested in railroads. And the power sector needs a boost in investment since the country is extremely deficient in power. While the mining sector is the corner-stone of economic development in Nigeria, there is a need for us to aggressively market our coal properties.
Abia: Glass Sand, limestone, Salt, Shale, Ball Clay, Granite, Galena, marble, laterite, bentonite, phosphate, kaolin, pyrite, feldspar, petroleum, lignite, gypsum, sphalerite, clay.
Adamawa: Granite, clay, gypsum, limestone, uranium, kaolin, coal, trona, barite salt, marble, magnesite, laterite.
Akwa Ibom: clay, glass sand, salt, silica sand, granite, coal, petroleum,
Natural Gas, Kaolin, limestone, lignite.
Anambra: clay, iron Stone, Natural Gas, petroleum, sand stone, Kaolin, pyrite, lignite.
Bauchi: kaolin, Trona, gypsum, cassiterite, mica, clay, tantalite, galena,
iron ore, gemstone, sphalerite, silica sand, Barite, columbite, Zinc, Lead,
Muscovite, Quartz, Tin, glass sand, monazite, Feldspar, Graphite, Wolfram,
Coal, Agate, Tentalum, Rutile, Tungsten, Copper, Talc, Limenite, Ziron.
Bayelsa: salt, petroleum, Natural gas, Silica Sand, Bentonite, crude Salt, petroleum, limestone, glass sand.
Benue: Gemstone, Barites, Feldspar, Marble, Mica, silica Sand, quartz, Galena, lead, zinc ore, silica sand, clay, crushed and dimension stone, fluorspar, wolframite, bauxite, shale, magnetie, Limenite, Brenite
Borno: Silica Sand, Natural Salt, sapphire, topaz, mica, quartz, gypsum, uranium, iron ore, megnesite, fedspar, Granite Aquamarine, Nepheline, Limestone, Kaolin, bentonite, laterite, Refractory Clay, Trona, Gold, Tin, Potash.
Cross River: Salt Limestone, Coal, Maganese, Mica, Limenite, Gold, Quartz, Glass sand, tourmaline, petroleum, Natural Gas, Kaolin, Tin ore, Sharp Sand, spring water, salt deposit,Talc,Granite,Galena,Lead,Zinc,Tin Ore,Muscovite,Uranium,Barite.
Delta.Kaolin,Lateritic Clay,Gravel,Silica Sand,Natural Gas,Petroleum,Ball Clay,Bauxite,Granite,River Sand,Clay,Spring Water.
Ebonyi:Lead, Zinc ore, Salt, Limestone, Ball Clay, Refractory Clay, Gypsum, Granite.
Edo : Chamockite, Copper, Gold, Marble,Granite,Gypsium,Petroleum,Dorite,
Ekiti:Clay, Chamokite,Quartz,Lignite,Limestone,Granite, Gemstone,Bauxite,
Imo:Crude oil,Shale,Natural Gas,Kaolin,Laterite Sand, Limestone,Salt,Marble.
Jigawa:Glass Sand,Granite,Laterite Clay,Silica,Kaolin,Iron Ore,Qurtz,Potash,
Tin Ore, Monazite,Wolframite,Thorium,Granite,Hyalite,Kaolin,
Kastina:Gold ,Manganese,Lateritic Clay,Feldspar,BlackTourmaline,Amethyst,
Tourmalin,Serpentine (Chresolite Asbestos),Chromites,Limenite, diamond,graphite,Iron Ore,Potash,Silica Sand.
Kebbi: Salt, Iron Ore, Gold, Feldspar, Limestone, Quartz, Bauxitic Clay,
Kogi:Clay, Iron Ore, Gemstone, Marble, Limestone, Feldspar, Dolomite,
Phosphate, Mica, Cassiterite,Granite,Ornamental Stone,Coal,Kaolin.
Lagos:Silica Sand, Bitumen, Sharp Sand, Gravel, Petroleum, Laterite.
Nassarawa: cassiterite, Gemstone,A,ethyst,Beryl, Cherysolite, Emerald,
Sapphire, Topaz, Barites, Galena, Monazite, Zicron, Glass sand, Coal .
Niger: Bell Clay, kaolin, limestone, Granite, Glass Sand, iron ore, red clay, feldspar, silica sand, Quartz, Asbestos, marble, Talc, Gemstone.
Ogun: kaolin, Feldspar, Silica sand, Mica, Granite, Clay, phosphate, gypsum, limestone, quartz, Tar sand.
Ondo: Marble, Gold, Gemstone, Diorite, lignite,
Osun: Clay, Granite, Talc, Dolomite, Feldspar, Quartz, Limestone, Mica,
Oyo: Clay, Feldspar, Granite, Limonite, iron ore, Kaolin, Quartz, Talc,
Marble, Dolomite, Tourmaline, Aquamarine, Amethyst,
Plateau: Monazite, columbite, Feldspar, Clay, Cassiterite, Gemstone, Kaolin, Dolomite, Mica, Zicron, Marble, Limonite, Barite, Quartz, Talc, Galena.
Rivers: petroleum, Natural gas, Silica sand, Glass sand, clay
Sokoto: Silica sand, Clay, salt, limestone, Phosphate, gypsum, kaolin, laterite, potash, granite,
Enugu: Laterite Clay, Crude oil, kaolinitic clay, iron ore, glass sand, petroleum, gypsum, coal, silica sand ceramics.
Gombe: graphite, Kaolin, Limestone, Silica sand, Uranium, Coal, Halites, Clay, Gypsum, Diatomite, Granite.
Taraba: Flurspar, Gamet, Tourmaline, Sapphire, Zicron, Tantalite, Columbite, Cassiterite, barite, Gelena, Limestone, Laterite, calcite, Bentonitic clay
Yobe: salt, Trona, diatomite, clay, gypsum, kaolin silica sand, limestone, Epsomite, iron ore, shale, uranium, granite, bentonic Clay.
Zamfara: Gold, Alluvia Gold, Granite, Chromites, chamorckite, clay, Feldspar,
Federal Capital Territory: Limestone, Kaolin, granite, marble, feldspar, mica, dolomite, clay, sand, talc.