Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

Exploring New Vistas For Nigeria`s Mineral and Energy Resources

By Martha Agas, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

Across the globe, there is growing awareness regarding the need to transit from fossil fuel- dependent energy to sustainable, renewable sources.

However, to achieve that there are sets of critical minerals that need to be supplied regularly to the global market.

They are the agents that will make renewable energy technologies to become affordable and sustainable. Africa has these resources in abundance.
The critical energy transition minerals include copper, lithium, nickel and cobalt.
Among these minerals, Nigeria is blessed with Lithium, currently mined in Nassarawa, Kogi, Kwara, Ekiti and Cross River.
Lithium is an essential component for the manufacturing of rechargeable batteries used in electric vehicles, electronics, and grid energy storage.
The increasing demand for renewable energy sources is expected open up new opportunities that could spark innovation among the nation’s policy makers.
However, these minerals come with their own set of pros and cons. According to the UN Environment Programme, they bring about environmental, social, economic, geopolitical, trade, and partnership challenges and opportunities.
Experts say that exploring the opportunities requires good management of the resources, including their production and processing.
As part of efforts to contribute to the development of these mineral resources, the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society (NMGS) advocated increased investment in critical minerals during its 59th Annual International Conference and Exhibition (AICE), held recently in Jos.
The conference, with the theme ‘Emerging Global Perspectives, Trends, and Sustainable Development of Minerals and Energy Resources, aimed to showcase Nigeria’s renewable energy potential to international investors and engage governments.

The AICE hosted major players in the mining industry, locally and internationally, engaging in discussions on significant developments in the mining sector, exploring investment opportunities, and charting the way forward.

The President of NMGS, Prof. Akinade Olatunji, said the platform was to further showcase the immense potential within the geoscience and mining spheres to the government at all levels in Nigeria.

Pix: Prof. Akinade Olatunji, President, NMGS, presenting a paper on’ Enabling African Geodata’ at the society’s 59th AICE in Jos.

The idea, he said was to encourage them to explore them for the good of the nation.

In a communiqué signed by Olatunji, the society called for the optimal development of iron and steel sector to expedite Nigeria’s industrialisation.
It stated that as part of efforts to open opportunities in the mineral and energy sector, there is a need to implement a mineral governance structure with supportive policies, along with the inclusion of all stakeholders.
This, it says, is to foster socio-economic development, environmental sustainability, and cooperation in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM)-dependent communities.
The society advocated the establishment of a commercial intervention strategy that facilitates easy market access, provides trade platforms, encourages financial inclusion, and ensures the elimination of collateral issues that impede access to funds.
It stated that capacity building at all levels, research and development and value chain training should be encouraged.
“Implementation of policies aimed at value chain addition in the minerals and energy sectors to boost wealth creation and increase GDP.
“Career advancement, skill and entrepreneurship development specific to the geosciences and mining practices are critical,” it said.
The society encouraged the adoption and application of innovations in information technology to develop resource management strategies.
One of the innovations introduced at the conference is the use of digital platforms to generate and share geoscience data used in extractive industries, natural hazard monitoring and management, among others.
Experts in the sector have established that it is expensive to generate geoscience data, and Nigeria does not have the required technology for that, so exploring data sharing is expedient.
In a world that is fast becoming a village, according to the NMGS president, data sharing could help alleviate the situation through platforms like the Deep-time Digital Earth Programme (DDE).
DDE is a big science programme designed to facilitate innovation in understanding the earth’s evolution and applications.
It also seeks to promote Sustainable Development Goals, by utilising big data analytics, internet cloud computing, data mining, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Olatunji explained that DDE connects all the data bases available across the globe and designed to provide better result and benefits for the work of geoscientists.
“ The platform is so unique to work across borders, and creates a very robust environment of data execution.
“The open-source nature of the DDE and the infrastructure it guarantees also provides budding geodata scientists on the continent opportunities to acquire appropriate skill sets in data interpretation and management,” he said.
An expert, Dr Henry Davies, listed the lack of a coordinated, centralised geo-database and limited access to quality geo sciences data as significant challenges.
He added that duplication of geoscience data; inadequate information sharing among stakeholders and poor data quality among other factors, were part of the challenges, which the DDE platform could help address.
Similarly, another expert, Prof. Mike Stephenson, urged Africa to leverage geoscience data to attract increased mining investment on the continent.
He said this was particularly given the global upsurge in energy transition, which has heightened the demand for critical minerals predominantly found in Africa.
He emphasised the need to generate geoscience data in order to accurately assess the natural resources within the region.
Stephenson, who is the DDE Director for Europe and Middle East, said data would help Africa get the best out of the resources that its nations choose to export.
According to him, geoscience data is crucial in transforming natural resources into sustainable economic development that benefits all.
“With appropriate controls, it can also conserve and enhance the natural environment in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), “ he said.
He said DDE programme, initiated in Beijing in 2019, could be deployed by various African governments, institutions and academics for their researches and surveys.
Similarly, the National President of the Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr Dele Ayanleke, called for safe mining practices and improved technology to reposition the sector.
Ayanleke urged the government and stakeholders to invest in affordable and environment- friendly mining technologies, such as mercury-free processing methods and efficient ore extraction techniques, to develop the sector.
He said that unlocking the wealth creation potential of ASM requires a multi-faceted approach that addresses factors such as governance, market access, finance, among other, while calling for the formalisation of ASM.
According to him, formalisation is crucial to enabling ASM operators to gain access to legal rights, financial services, and markets, while ensuring environmental sustainability and compliance with labour standards.
The MAN official urged the government to support ASM cooperatives and associations in accessing formal markets, negotiating fair prices, and meeting quality standards.
At the conference, the gemstone industry was identified as a potential source of livelihood with numerous opportunities for geo-scientists.
Dr Janet Adeyemi, the President of Women In Mining In Nigeria (WIMIN said Nigeria has gemstones spread across its landmass, adding that the industry provided opportunities for wealth creation.
Adeyemi said that the entrepreneurial opportunities in mining had the potential to industrialise Nigeria and Africa.
She said that manufacturing opportunities for gemstone and jewelry processing equipment, lapidary equipment, among others would provide an expanded basis for a potential bottom-up industrialisation process in the gemstone and jewelry sector.
“Such new industries in the country could also help to offset risks of declining revenue from fossil fuel exports while diversifying national revenue streams, “she said.
According to her, identifying opportunities in the industry requires a comprehensive understanding of the market and the ability to recognise emerging trends and demands.
She recommended that Nigeria should establish a venture capital fund for mining, gemstone processing and marketing.
She added that a good regulatory environment can attract investment in the sector and create a conducive business environment for mining companies, thereby triggering opportunities in the sector.
According to Adeyemi, bridging the gaps between the local industry in Nigeria and the global market requires urgently building the capacity of local industry operators.
While these opportunities abound in the industry, stakeholders have also called for gender inclusion in the sector.
According to Dr Hannah Wozah, of Geology Department, University of Jos, promoting gender equality in the Nigeria’s energy and mineral resources industry will drive sustainable development and economic growth.
She said it would contribute to addressing systemic barriers and promote a culture of inclusivity through gender inclusion policies in the sector.
Experts say that there are also unexplored opportunities in wealth creation in sectors such as medical geology, geo-tourism and geo heritage.
Stakeholders hope that government will play an active role in fostering public-private partnerships and investing in manpower development which is pivotal to unlocking the potential of these untapped sectors.
They also call for the optimal development of lithium in line with value addition standards before exporting it.
Given the dire need to diversify government’s revenue earning options, it is important that deliberate efforts are geared towards maximising the opportunities inherent in every sector including minerals. (NANFeatures)
**If used please credit the writer and News Agency of Nigeria.

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