Nigeria has unveiled stricter licencing regulations for foreign mining companies, aimed at compelling them to enhance in-country processing and refining of metals such as lithium and zinc, according to the Minister of Mines, Dele Alake.
Speaking at a Nigeria Mining Week event in the capital city of Abuja, Alake disclosed the government’s new policy, requiring mining firms to present business plans emphasising “value addition” before their licences are approved.
The primary objective of this policy is to stimulate local job creation. Alake reported, “I am glad to mention that such an initiative is already on stream as some companies have already commenced operations in Nigeria.”
The minister pointed to Ganfeng Lithium Industry Ltd, a Chinese firm currently constructing a lithium processing facility in Nasarawa State, as a model for the type of investment the government aims to attract.
This plant, expected to process approximately 18,000 tonnes of lithium ore daily, will produce batteries for electric vehicles, a crucial step towards fostering a sustainable and green economy.
Nigeria is keen to lure investors to its underdeveloped mining sector, which has historically contributed less than 1% to the nation’s gross domestic product. As Africa’s foremost oil producer with abundant resources, including gold, limestone, and zinc, the government is actively promoting the diversification of its economy away from oil dependence.
Alake emphasised that the mining industry is undergoing modernisation efforts, with the government investing over 15 billion naira (approximately $19.6 million) across seven years in data collection. This initiative, known as the National Integrated Mineral Exploration Project (NIMEP), has led to significant discoveries, positioning Nigeria as a prominent lithium-rich country on the global stage.
Last month, Nigeria also announced plans to establish a state-backed company designed to attract investments in the extraction of various minerals, including gold, coal, iron ore, baryte, lead, bitumen, and limestone.