Nigeria

The Nigerian Mining Industry – An Underdeveloped Industry

Minerals:Gold, columbite, wolframite, tantalite, bitumen, iron ore and uraniume

Independence: 1 October 1960

Area: 923,768 km2

Mining fact: Despite massive mineral wealth, the Nigerian mining industry is vastly underdeveloped and only accounts for 0.3% of the country’s GDP – and this due to oil resources. The underdevelopment is resulting in Nigeria having to import processed minerals, even though it could be locally produced

History of Nigerian Mining

The British colonial government created the Mineral Survey of the Northern Protectorates in 1903 with the Southern Protectorates following soon after. Nigeria started major production of coal, tin and columbite by the 1940s. In 1956 when oil was discovered, the mineral industries suffered when the focus shifted to mining oil. In the 1960s the Civil War led to expat mining experts leaving the country and mines being abandoned. Mining regulations drastically changed and productivity declined. In the late 1990s the government started selling government-owned mining companies to private investors.

Coal, Lignite and Coke Mining in Nigeria

Coal was first discovered in 1909 and the industry thrived for some years before the Civil War. Prior to the mining industry’s privatisation, the Nigerian Coal Corporation held the monopoly on mining, processing and selling coal, lignite and coke products. Despite the war ending in the 1970s the coal industry did not recover. Attempts to mechanise the industry in the 1970s and 1980s failed and were ultimately abandoned

Gold Mining in Nigeria

Abundant gold deposits exist in Northern Nigeria in Anka, Maru, Malele, Tsohon, Osun, Birnin, Gwari-Kwaga, Bin Yauri, Gurmana and Iperindo. Production started in 1913 and peaked in the 1930s before declining during the war. Mines were abandoned and like the coal industry, the gold mining industry also didn’t recover. Although there are no large-scale gold mining operations in Nigeria currently, there is some small-scale gold mining done by artists. The leading gold miners in Nigeria are a family from Anka called Alye.

Iron Ore Mining in Nigeria

The purest deposits of iron ore in Nigeria is in Itakpe in the Kogi State. As one of the operational mining industries in Nigeria, the country is exploring exporting iron ore in excess of domestic requirements. The government of Nigeria has also invested in iron ore operations in Guinea.

Uranium Mining in Nigeria

The British Geological Survey recently discovered several major uranium deposits in Adamawa State, Plateau State, Taraba State, Cross River State, Kano State and Bauchi State. The existing uranium mining assets are being liquidated as in 2016. It is not known whether the recent discoveries will be further explored.

Wolframite, Columbite, Tantalite and Bitumen Mining

Despite abundant deposits, only small-scale mining is done on these minerals.

Ecological Issues

Environmental officials of the government of the Plateau State in Nigeria are concerned with the 1,100 columbite and tin mines that were abandoned after the mining boom of the 1960s. According to their research these mines are posing a serious risk to millions of people residing in the area. There have been reports of radioactive shale from the mines from the districts of Riyom, Bassa, Bukur, Jos and Barikin-Ladi.