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MINING is the extraction or removal of metal from the Earth. The mining of mineral in Nigeria accounts for only 0.3% off its GDP due to the influence of its vast oil resources. The domestic mining industry is under developed, leading to Nigeria having to import minerals that it could produce domestically, such as salt and iron ore. Right to ownership of mineral resources is held by the Nigerian government, which grants titles to organisations to explore, mine, and sell mineral resources.
Organised mining began in 1903 when the mineral survey of the Northern protectorate was created by the British colonial government. A year later, the mineral survey of the Northern protectorate was founded. By the 1940’s, Nigeria was a major producer of Tin, Columbite, and coal. The discovery of oil in 1956 hurt the mineral extraction industries, as government and industries both began to focus on this new resource.
The civil war in the late 1960’s led many expatriate mining experts to leave the country. Mining is handled by the ministry of Solid Mineral Development, which oversees the management of all mineral resources. Mining Law is codified in the Federal Mineral and Mining Act of 1999.
Historically, Nigeria’s mining industry was monopolised by state owned public corporations. This led to a decline in productivity in almost all mineral industries.
Tin mining is one sector that has massive potential for expansion and job creation. Nigeria has reserves of the Mineral in excess of 31,000 tonnes; most of it concentrated in the central Jos Plateau, and was a major exporter before the oil boom of the 1970s. However, annual production fell drastically from 11,000 tonnes in 1975 to just about 2,000 tonnes currently. (Online Nigeria) only a very few small portion of the Jos deposits have so far been tapped; some estimates the total area of mining operation at just 4 percent of full potential.
Official neglect of the sector has resulted in elaborate smuggling operations in unregulated mines. The Obasanjo administration began a process of selling off government corporations to provide Investor’s in 1999. This could not accord the sector any succour.
Which way forward for Nigeria? The only way forward is Entrepreneurial revolution in the mining sector. Revitalising the sector is part of extended government efforts to rectify massive imbalances in the economy, and the solid mineral sector is seen as crucial to overcoming the historic dependence on oil and gas. Nigeria boasts of vast reserves of iron ore and coal, besides significant gold, Uranium, gypsum, barite and Tantalum deposits. A sharp decline in the production of coal, tin and columbite weakened the mining sector and dragged its GDP contribution down to 0.5 percent.
Federal government should encourage entrepreneurs in the mining sector by creating environments friendly for investment in the mining sector. Also, Entrepreneurs should be giving tax holiday for a year to encourage them. Government should also partner with World Bank trade body and NEXIM bank to promote regional trade on Solid minerals; as NEXIM is interested in helping our dying Mining sector through the provision of export credit facility; risk bearing facilities; trade and market information, and export advisory services to export oriented investors in the manufacturing, agro- processing, solid minerals and services sectors.
Furthermore, over 80 percent of Nigeria’s Tin deposits occur at a debt of 36 metre below the ground, twice as deep as twenty five years ago. Considering the fact that Nigeria Tin is regarded as one of the top qualities in the world. There is scope for massive development of the sector; if there is strict regulation and incentives for entrepreneurial ventures in tin mining. It can significantly boost export revenue, besides generating employment and sustaining exclusive ancillary industries. There is urgent need to revamp the mining sector of our economy.