Components Of Nigerian Mining Industry

Nigeria is well blessed with a lot of minerals which if exploited judiciously will lead the country into an abundance of wealth. A lot of solid minerals such as precious and base minerals, industrial minerals, energy minerals, and metals can be found here. In the past around the 1960s to early 1970s, the country used to be a major exporter of tin, columbite, and coal, however, by the mid-1970s, activities in this sector of the economy began to dwindle.  The discovery of oil led to a shift in the focus of the Federal government from solid minerals to crude oil production as a major source of foreign exchange for the country.

Recently, the Federal government has been making moves targeted at revamping this sector and this has led to the enactment of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act of 2007. Several other policies have been made by successive governments to attract investors into the sector. As of now, the mining sector only accounts for about 0.3% of the country’s GDP with Nigeria having to rely on other countries for processing minerals that can be produced locally. 

Components Of Nigerian Mining Industry

  • Exploration and Mining (upstream)
  • Processing and beneficiation (midstream)
  • Marketing and transportation (downstream)

Mining In Nigeria 

The colonial government of the British created the Mineral Survey of the Northern Protectorate in 1903 with that of the south following shortly afterward. However major activities in the sector were not recorded until the 1940s when major production of coal, tin, and columbite started in the country.

Classification Of Nigerian Mining Sector 

Based on the key activities currently carried out in the Nigerian mining industry, 3 subsectors can be easily recognized. These subsectors are Exploration and Mining (upstream), processing and beneficiation (midstream), and marketing and transportation (downstream). Of the three subsectors of the mining industry, only the upstream and downstream subsectors are active in the country currently as the federal government is putting plans together to ensures the midstream subsector comes alive as well. 

Exploration And Mining(Upstream)

Mineral exploration refers to the process of carefully and diligently searching for and identifying potential localities where useful and important minerals are extracted from the earth. Some of the steps to take include area selection, resource evaluation, and also geochemical and geophysical testing. After an area is explored and useful mineral is found, the commercial value of such mineral is then determined before further action is taken to determine if the discovered deposit will be viable economically for the explorers. After all, tests are concluded, the proper mining of the discovered mineral is carried out.

Mining is defined as the process of extracting minerals that are valuable as well as other geologic materials from the earth usually from an orebody, vein, seam, or placer deposit. The minerals being extracted must be of economic value to the miner because mining is a highly expensive process. In Nigeria, the exploration and mining subsector is dominated by low skilled small scale/artisan miners and local integrated manufacturing companies. Also, a few small mining companies have entered into joint venture contracts with indigenous companies for mining operations.  A total of 2,395 companies and individuals were licensed to operate in these subsectors as of December 2016.

Processing And Beneficiation Subsector (Midstream) 

This subsector is currently not active in the country but efforts are being put into place by the federal government to ensure this sector also comes alive. There are plans to improve on the current levels of production and beneficiation of industrial and ferrous minerals by putting in place policies that ensure minimum local content threshold for the use of these minerals by various industries/sectors are met.

Processing and beneficiation are steps taken to improve (benefits) the economic value of the ore by removing the gangue minerals(impurities) thereby increasing the level of purity of the end product. Processes such as gravity separation and froth flotation are employed to separate the desired mineral and the gangue minerals. 

Marketing And Transportation (Downstream) 

This subsector is self-explanatory as the name says it all. After the minerals have been processed, the next thing is to find a buyer who requires them and also transport such to the buyer. Individuals and indigenous companies operate in this subsector.

Common Minerals Mined In Nigeria

  • Coal Mining In Nigeria

First discovered in the country in the year 1909, coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock that can be found in rock strata or veins. There are six grades of coal including lignite and anthracite.  The coal industry thrived for several years until the civil but it failed to recover even after the war ended. 

  • Gold Mining In Nigeria

Gold is a highly valued precious mineral that is commonly used as jewelry. The abundance of gold deposits exists in areas such as Ilesha, Anka, Malele, Maru, Iperindo, Ife, Birnin, Gwari-kwaga, Bin Yauri, Gurmana, and Tsohon. Production of gold in Nigeria started in the 1930s. The mining of gold in Nigeria was also impacted by the civil war. Currently, in Nigeria, there are no large-scale gold mining operations but there are thousands of artisans mining gold on a small scale spread all over Nigeria.

  • Iron Ore Mining In Nigeria

Itakpe, an area in Kogi state has the purest known iron ore deposit in Nigeria. This mining industry is fully operational with Nigeria producing more than the local demand for iron ore. This has resulted in the exportation of excesses to other countries.

  • Uranium Mining In Nigeria

Large deposits of uranium have recently been discovered in some states in Nigeria by the British Geological Survey. Such states as Kano, Adamawa, Plateau, Taraba, Bauchi, and Cross River are believed to hold appreciable amounts of uranium deposits. The existing uranium mining assets are currently being liquidated.

  • Wolframite, Columbite, Tantalite, And Bitumen Mining

Abundant deposits of these minerals are spread all over the country. Large amounts of these minerals can be found all over Northern Nigeria and a few southern states. Despite being discovered before crude, only small-scale mining of these minerals is currently carried out in Nigeria.

Conclusion 

Nigeria is sitting on a hotbed of solid minerals which if we’ll exploit can transform the country into one of the major economies in the world. Baby steps are currently being taken in the mining industry but without a doubt, the future is bright.

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