Stakeholders in solid minerals industry are calling for the mechanised exploration of the abundant mineral resources in Nigeria.
Specifically, they said gold had the potential to attract substantial investment into the country and should be explored strategically.
They spoke at the Nigerian Mining Week 2020 held virtually.
According to them, artisanal mining of gold has made it one of the under-explored minerals in the country.
Speaking at a panel discussion themed ‘Mineral of the Future in Nigeria’, the Head, Public Sector Energy Utilities and Resources Service, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Habeeb Jaiyeola, noted that new technologies were emerging and affecting lives in many ways including mining.
He pointed out that the Federal Government had prioritised seven of the country’s strategic solid minerals.
Jaiyeola called on stakeholders to identify, focus and invest in the minerals of the future in order to improve Nigeria’s competitive advantage in the minerals and metals space.
As part of moves to diversify Nigeria’s economy from oil, the Federal Government identified coal, iron ore, bitumen, gold, limestone, lead, zinc and barite as minerals to be explored for export.
To attract investors into the solid minerals sector, the Director-General, Nigerian Geological Survey Agency, Abdulrazaq Garba, said the government had embarked on the National Integrated Mineral Exploration project aimed at building mining data in the sector.
According to him, the project is targeted at generating geoscience information in greenfield and brownfield settings through integrated exploration.
He said the findings of the project were strategic and capable of attracting investors.
“The project is designed to address the dearth of exploration data and attract the right investment into the sector. These efforts are in a bid to diversify the Nigerian economy through the development of the abundant mineral resources.”
According to Garba, the project team has completed 6,000 metres of drilling in Lot A1 and in Lot A2, 545 metres, over 2,500 metres of drilling and a number of analysis of the samples of minerals collected.
Highlighting some of the findings of the study, he said, “Gold mineralisation shows that we have gold concentration of between one and three metres intersection and gold grains between one and four grammes/tonne. Interestingly, we came across consistent mineralisation reaching 1,900 grammes per tungsten.
“We have about 16.6 grammes /tonne silver content in an area spanning about 7km in the North South direction. These areas were investigated using geoscience and other integrated exploration methodology.”
Garba stated that the project had generated geoscience data that could be leveraged across the different commodities being considered in the future for investment decision.
He added that the project had successfully defined standards for exploration targeting and mineral resource evaluation of the different commodities.
The Consulting Geologist at PW Nigeria Limited, Kieran Harrington, described gold as a mineral of the past, present and future because it did not lose its luster, exploration and marketability.
Based on investigations carried out, he said West Africa craton had an excess of 100 million oz reserves of gold, saying that Nigeria was one of the under-explored terrains in the world in gold.
“There has been no systematic exploration for up to a few years ago. Segilola in Osun State is the first modern large scale mechanised gold mine. There are known significant deposits in Zamfara, Niger, Kwara, Kebbi, Kaduna and Osun states. Many of the mines are explored by artisanal workers,” Harrington said.
He said his company had secured three exploration licences, used remote sensing for target identification to discover where the largest deposits were located and carried out grassroots target delineation fieldwork.
According to him, the company will be drilling in some weeks and establish quality control protocols to ensure the mining activity as safe.
He advised companies seeking to invest in the sector to adopt best practices and to be prepared to do systematic exploration even though it might be time-consuming.