NIGERIA – The Nigerian Institution of Metallurgical, Mining and Materials Engineers on Thursday said available reserves of iron ore and lead in the country could generate about $292bn.

Chairman of NIMMME, Ayodeji Adeyemo, who spoke during his investiture on October this year, said it was regrettable that despite abundant mineral deposits, the contribution of mining to the GDP was not up to one per cent.

Quoting the 2018 report of Geology and Mineral Resources of Nigeria and their uses, Adeyemo noted that the estimated deposits of iron ore and coal in the country were three billion tonnes each while that of lead/zinc was 10 million tonnes.

He added that available data in the National Bureau of Statistics showed that the GDP of coal, metal ores and other mined and quarry products stood at N102bn ($330m) in 2016 during the recession and rose to N126bn ($407m) in 2017.

“Despite the growth of about 240 per cent observed in the GDP contribution of these minerals between 2011, when it was N52.5bn ($170m), and 2017, the contribution of mining to the overall GDP reduced from 0.14 per cent to 0.11 per cent.

“This is far too low compared to the earning potential of minerals available in Nigeria. For instance, with the available reserves of iron ore and lead, the nation can generate $280bn and $12bn, respectively,” Adeyemo said.

He added that available reserves of other minerals, such as gold, coal, tantalites and cassiterite could generate huge revenue for the country.

Stressing that the mining and indeed the metal industry was vital to the country’s quest for industrialisation, he said the Ajaokuta Steel Complex, upon completion, could generate 15,000 direct jobs and 500,000 indirect jobs.

The oil dependent economy of Nigeria has had to navigate a major crisis that started with the collapse of oil prices in 2014 and was worsened by the recent push for oil production cuts by OPEC aimed at increasing the prices of oil from the current average of US$60 to at least US$75.

To address the challenge of declining revenues from oil, the government has shifted focus to non-oil exports to boost its revenue and create more employment for its people.

Mining and Agriculture are some of the sectors that the government is seriously considering in its diversification strategy and has already invested in projects like the Ajaokuta Steel mining and in Cocoa farming among others.