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Revamping Nigeria’s mining sector: Prioritizing local mineral processing

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Nigeria’s government has announced a significant policy shift regarding new mining licenses, stating that they will only be granted to companies committed to processing extracted minerals locally. This marks a departure from the country’s longstanding practice of exporting raw materials.

According to Segun Tomori, a spokesperson for Nigeria’s minister of Solid Minerals Development, the new guidelines being developed will require firms applying for mining licenses to present feasible plans for local mineral processing. This move aligns Nigeria with other African nations that have taken steps to extract greater value from their solid mineral deposits.

To attract investment in mineral processing, Nigeria plans to offer incentives to prospective investors, including tax waivers for importing mining equipment and full repatriation of profits. However, these incentives will be contingent on companies demonstrating their commitment to establishing processing plants and adding value to the Nigerian economy.

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Dele Alake, Nigeria’s minister of Solid Minerals Development and chair of an African Mining Strategy Group, is advocating for a continent-wide effort to maximize local benefits from mineral exploration. Despite being Africa’s top energy producer, Nigeria has historically underutilized its vast mineral resources due to insufficient incentives and neglect.

One key aspect of the government’s new policy aims to regulate artisanal miners, who currently dominate the sector, by organizing them into cooperatives. In 2023, Nigeria exported primarily tin ore and concentrates valued at approximately $109 million, with China and Malaysia being the main destinations, according to the country’s statistics bureau.

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