Skip to main content

Nigeria has a diverse mining sector made up of high-value commodities, with over 44 minerals deposited in over 500 locations across the 36 states including the Federal Capital Territory.

In 2015, the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development identified ‘Seven Strategic Minerals’ namely; coal, bitumen, limestone, iron ore, barites, gold and lead, and zinc – for priority development in a bid to revive the mining sector, unlock its potential and diversify the economy away from crude oil.

These minerals are deposited across the country and have not been fully explored due to a myriad of factors.

COVID-19 led to draconian lockdown measures in countries around the world, including Nigeria. Reduced mining operations and lower demand led to the closure of mines worldwide.

The uncertainty that accompanied the pandemic has also led to the volatility of commodity prices in the sector. However, the price of gold surged as a result of the pandemic, as gold is largely seen as a reliable store of value.

This led to a surge in gold smuggling and illegal mining. For instance, in late April, the government arrested a number of illegal miners in Zamfara state which is known for artisanal mining activities related to gold mining.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, mining and quarrying make up 0.17% of employment in Nigeria. Artisanal and small-scale miners who make up about 85% of miners in Nigeria cannot continue with their regular activities as a result of the pandemic.

Thus, the disruption in mining activities has had a significant impact on the lives and livelihoods of miners in the country.

The mining sector in Nigeria has not been considered an essential service which has caused challenges for revenue generation. It has affected operators in some of following ways:

  • Inter-state movement has restricted the movement of explosives; and
  • The construction industry which depends on input minerals has been affected due to accessibility issues.

In terms of regulators, the pandemic has led to:

  • An interruption of fieldwork such as ASM extension and formalization services due to inter-state lockdown and social distancing practices;
  • Inadequate technological infrastructure to retrieve ASM formalization documents virtually from ASM miners.

Leave a Reply