Until 1970, solid mineral mining was a significant contributor to industrialization and economic development in Nigeria, accounting for c 4-5% of GDP. Aside from the discovery of oil in the 70s, the sector hit a roadblock in 1972, after the indigenization decree was enacted with the FGN now in control of all mining activities. This resulted in the mass exit of British expatriates (+120 mining companies) and withdrawal of FDI flows amid government neglect.
Successive efforts to revamp the sector have been abortive but efforts by the current administration are commendable. Of the 40 different solid minerals identified by the Ministry of Mine & Steel Development across the country, 7 (Coal, Bitumen, Limestone, Iron-Ore, Barites, Gold and Lead/Zinc) have been handpicked as priority minerals for focused development. Selected based on data constraint and industrial linkages, the ministry is issuing prospecting license to interested
local and foreign investors hoping to boost solid mineral mining contribution to GDP from <1% to 10% by 2026.
The above notwithstanding, challenges hampering growth in the sector such as limited geoscience data & information, inadequate electricity supply, poor access roads to deposits sites, insecurity, illegal mining and most of all, poor funding, must be surmounted before any meaningful growth is achieved.