Nigeria plans to spend N15bn ($42m) next year to explore for solid minerals and attract investors into mining and reduce its dependence on oil, the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has said.
“Because we are starting from a low base, we want to have a portfolio of exploration activities in place that could whet the appetite of the average investor who wants to come in,” Fayemi said in an interview in Abuja, according to Bloomberg.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s government planned to support investments in the exploration of its priority minerals including gold, bitumen, iron, barite, limestone, lead and zinc, Fayemi said.
The government would be hoping to attract as much as N60bn of private investment into mining, he said.
The report by Bloomberg also noted that tapping resources other than oil, Nigeria’s main export, had been part of the government’s economic recovery and growth plan after the country went through its worst economic slump in 25 years as oil output and prices fell. Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer. The contribution of solid minerals to Gross Domestic Product is expected to increase to more than eight per cent by 2020 from less than one per cent, according to the government.
To further encourage investors, incentives including tax holidays of as much as five years for new companies entering the market, duty free imports on mining equipment and mining licences for 25 years had been put in place, the minister said.
Additional support for the industry is expected through a $600m bond to be sold by the end of the year to raise more funds to provide required infrastructure and help accumulate data on minerals, according to the Executive Secretary of the Solid Minerals Development Fund, Fatima Shinkafi.
“Nigeria is one of the lowest spenders on exploration as far as mining activity is concerned,” Fayemi said, adding, “This government is determined to turn the tide on that because we’re quite convinced of the opportunities.”
The country has at least 44 minerals that can be extracted in commercial quantities, according to the solid minerals ministry. Mining in the country is currently dominated by artisans, who produce gold, tin and others in small amounts.