Alhaji Sani Shehu, the President, Miners Association of Nigeria, on Wednesday said five countries had declared interest to invest in Nigeria’s mining sector.
Shehu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that the countries were Thailand, South Africa, Dubai, Canada and Australia.
He said they had declared interest to come to Nigeria with their equipment and start mining very soon.
He said their investment in the sector would boost Nigeria’s economy and create job opportunities for the youth.
While encouraging the investors, the president said the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007, and its Regulations 2011, were in line with international standard and guaranteed security of tenure.
He also said that Nigeria had a favourable geology and readily available geosciences data for prospective investors.
According to him, Nigeria is richly endowed with various minerals all over the country.
“There are 44 minerals occurring in no fewer than 500 locations in Nigeria; the notable minerals are Metallic, Tin, Tantalite, Columbite, Iron ore, Nickel, Lead, Zinc, Zircon, Silver, and Copper.
“ Among them are industrial minerals, Barytes, Talc, Limestone, Clays, Marble, Graphite, Asbestos, Feldspars, Glass sand, Gypsum, Talc, Mica, Precious minerals, Gold, Silver, Gemstones, Coal, Bitumen, Lignite and Uranium.’’
The president said currently, mining contributed only 0.3 per cent to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP).
According to him, mining in Nigeria is over 2,400 years old; it started as a form of artisan mining by communities in search of materials such as gold, clay, base metals for sculptures.
“Organised mining started in 1902 resulting in Nigeria producing and exporting Columbite, Tin and Coal in 1940; Nigeria became the sixth world largest producer of columbite, Tin and Coal,” he said.
“Officially, gold production started in 1913 and peaked up in 1933 to 1943 when about 1.4 tons of gold were produced annually,’’ he said.
He said the gold production declined during the Second World War period and it was never recovered because mines explorations were abandoned by mostly colonial companies.
He recalled some factors that necessitated the decline in mines as the departure of the major mining companies due to unfavourable policies, negligence of the sector by successive governments.
Others included non collection of tax levies, high investor perception of risk due to poor governance and negative social and environmental legacy from the past and illegal mining operations.
“The discovery of petroleum and its subsequent domination of the Nigerian economy also contributed to lack of attention to mineral exploration.’’