As Nigeria seeks to further diversify its economic activities beyond oil, Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has identified the effort of the operators of the Segilola Gold Project in Osun State, referring to it as an eyeopener to the immense potential inherent in the Nigerian mining sector.
The Vice President stated this in his remarks during the 6th edition of Nigeria Mining Week, held in Abuja, with the theme “success and achievement in the Nigerian mining sector.” Osinbajo, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the event said the government is committed to prioritizing the development of Nigerian mineral resources as one of the critical factors for economic development in the country.
Osinbajo stated that “Nigeria, for the first time, has a world-class gold mine running in Osun State, Segilola Gold Project, operated by Thor Explorations Limited and others around the country. I believe that this sector when fully developed, will outstrip other sectors in export earnings and opportunities.’’
Recently, the Segilola Gold Project became the first indigenous large-scale commercial gold mine in Nigeria which poured its first gold in July last year. According to the MD/CEO of Thor Explorations Limited, Segun Lawson, the Company has enjoyed the support of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, even as the ministry continues to be more creative in its approaches to providing an enabling operating environment that would support large-scale commercial mining activities in Nigeria.
“We have just been through a very transformational 24 months, going from an exploration company, through a bankable feasibility stage and going through the construction of our first gold mine which coincidentally, happens to be Nigeria's first large-scale gold mine. While we are probably the only known gold resource in Nigeria, we think that Segilola is just the start of the significant potential here in Nigeria. We are very encouraged by what the ministries and the government are doing to uncover more resources here. We see this as an opportunity not just to stay at Segilola but to grow in the country as a miner, as a producer and hopefully, in the next two or three years we will be here talking about our second gold mine in Nigeria,” Lawson stated.
Lawson further explained that Segilola is keen on promoting environmentally friendly operations as part of its sustainability programmes within its communities. He stated that “one of the things we want to do over the next 18 months is to continue drilling, continue increasing the resource and continue extending the mine life. This year, we transitioned from using diesel to power our plant to compressed natural gas in Nigeria which brought down our greenhouse gas emissions and cost of operating the mine”.
Explaining how the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development is navigating the curve of attracting more investment into the sector, the Minister, Arc. Olamilenkan Adegbite said “the ministry crystalizes different strategies to address the lack of geological data, weak institutional capacity, low revenue generation, informal mining and community issues on the national steel assets. The Ministry has recorded some significant achievement that has defined a growth strategy for the Nigerian mining sector.”
Highlights of some of these ministry deliverables targeted at attracting investors into the huge opportunities and market in Nigeria include the upgrade and automation of the mining cadastral office and the creation of zonal offices in all the geopolitical zones of the country. “Nigeria now has a cadastre system that is efficient, non-discriminatory, transparent and accessible to investors throughout the world”, Adegbite stated.
Nigeria Mining Week is an annual event for stakeholders in the mining sector to deliberate on issues affecting the sector and proffer workable solutions that would move the sector forward. Established seven years ago, the event is organized by the Miner’s Association of Nigeria in collaboration with PwC and The Vuka Group in conjunction with the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.