Nigeria is set to grant new mining licences exclusively to companies that provide a plan for local mineral processing, Reuters reported.

This marks a significant shift from the country’s long-standing policy of exporting unprocessed raw materials.

A government spokesperson said that the government aims to maximise the value derived from Nigeria’s solid mineral deposits.

Despite being Africa’s leading energy producer, Nigeria has historically gained minimal value from its abundant mineral resources.

The mining sector’s contribution to the nation’s gross domestic product remains below 1%, attributed to inadequate incentives and neglect.

To attract more investment into the mining industry, the government is issuing additional licences, according to the news agency.

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It has established a state-owned solid minerals corporation, offering investors a 75% stake. Additionally, a special security unit has been created to combat illegal mining activities.

Efforts are also underway to regulate the artisanal miners who currently dominate the sector. The government is organising these miners into cooperatives.

Segun Tomori, a spokesperson for Nigeria’s minister of solid minerals development, explained that the government plans to offer tax waivers on mining equipment imports to spur more investments in the country.  

It also intends to make it easier to secure electricity generation licences, as well as enable full repatriation of profits.

Tomori was quoted by the news agency as saying: “In exchange, we have to review their plans for setting up a plant and how they would add value to the Nigerian economy.”

However, Tomori did not specify the exact time when the guidelines would be effective. In September last year, Reuters reported on Nigeria’s plans to form a state-backed minerals corporation, called Nigerian Solid Minerals Corporation, which will mainly be engaged in the extraction of gold, coal, iron ore, bitumen, lead, limestone and baryte.