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Nigeria aims to tap mineral wealth amid COVID-19 and civil unrest

Oil prices hit record lows as COVID-19 spread worldwide, and Nigeria’s earnings suffered. Now the country has revealed plans to diversify its income by cashing in on gold

Nigeria aims to revive its finances after a rather slow start to the year by expanding its mining operations by 2023.

The country has been facing economic challenges as a direct result of the spread of the novel coronavirus disease and the dwindling price of crude.

Nigeria’s minister of mines, Olamilekan Adegbite, said the country is aiming to have 50 mines in operation within the next three years. This, he said, could make up for revenues lost through the damage caused by COVID-19 and two-decade low prices for crude oil.

“The pandemic has slowed things down, but we can still catch up,” Adegbite said in an interview.

Nascent sector  

Nigeria is Africa’s largest producer of oil; mining accounts for a fraction of the national economy. However, the West African country is looking to diversify its income by tapping and expanding its mining wealth.

The plan is to grow the mining sector, which is currently a nascent sector, to a level where it accounts for about 3% of the economy.

The country is hopeful that it can generate increased profits from processing minerals, as against shipping raw product.

Nigeria aims to process barite, which is used in drilling for oil and gas, and to sell it to countries, such as Ghana and South Africa, which require it to exploit new oil finds.

Taxes and royalties

Nigeria’s grand plans to maximise its income from the extractives industries also includes formalising artisanal mining. This, the Nigerian government believes, could help to earn more taxes and royalties.

Adegbite called on small-scale miners to form co-operatives and sell at government-buying centres.

This will ensure that the prices Nigeria earns from gold are closer to global values, as against that which is offered by illegal buyers. 

Oil has hit a low following the COVID-19 outbreak, but gold prices continue to rise and even achieved a record high in August. 

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