The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite has credited the successes recorded by Segilola Resources Operating Limited (SROL) in gold production in the country as the rationale for the increased interest of foreign investors in Nigeria’s mining and metals sector.
Speaking during a facility tour of Iperindo, Osun-based SROL – a West African subsidiary of Thor Exploration Limited which focuses on gold exploration and development and is listed on the Toronto Venture Exchange – the minister disclosed that an Aurelian company has commenced operation in Baba Tsauni area of Gwagwalada, Federal Capital Territory, carrying out an advanced exploration and mining project for gold, silver and lead.
“An Aurelian company came into Nigeria in 2021, brought some investment in and others are about starting operation while another company who has also made imprints in Nigeria is acquiring equity rights now. So many other companies like that have come into Nigeria; some are at the explorative stages while some have even gone beyond that,” he further explained.
He attributed the sudden foreign interests in Nigeria’s mining sector to the success story of SROL’s operations in Nigeria. He, however, added that the nation needs more of Segilola to return to the world mining map.
“We need more of Segilola in Nigeria. You are the pioneer and we are happy that it is a success story. When I started going to the mining calendar events and invited them to invest in the sector, they were hesitant as they saw Nigeria as shark-infested water and wanted to see who dived in and came out first. They wanted to see how Thor Exploration will fare. Your success story is out there now and everybody wants to be the next Segilola,” he said.
According to him, the success story of Segilola has opened a new vista of opportunities for Nigeria and Nigerians. “I was in Australia, Saudi Arabia, London, Canada and even the United States of America. Everybody wants to come to Nigeria to do mining because of what Segilola has done. A lot of news out there is negative about Nigeria, but we have your story to tell as a company that came from outside and can survive in Nigeria.”
Adegbite disclosed that the SROL has paid about N1.1 billion in royalties to the Federal Government since they started production in 2021. He further expressed the government’s willingness to welcome more relevant investors like Segilola, so that more royalty can be generated for the government and more employment can be created for Nigerians.
He hailed SROL for employing skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled from the neighbourhood, encouraged communities to be receptive to mining companies to accelerate development in their communities, provide job opportunities for their teeming youths and create wealth. He appealed for continuous cooperation between the mining companies and the host communities, as he said SROL has employed a lot of people.
“They employed a lot of people; the communities are benefitting; they have gone beyond the community development agreement (CDA) which is compulsory and now doing a lot under community social responsibility (CSR). This should be an encouragement,” he added.
The minister ascribed earlier hesitation of foreign interest in the sector to the notion that Nigeria was being seen as an oil and gas country. This perception was, however, changed with accelerated investment in exploration through the National Integrated Mining Exploration Project (NIMEP) and its generated data.
He called on more foreign mining companies to invest in Nigeria and take advantage of the abundant mineral resources, not just gold but also other minerals spread all over different parts of the country such as lithium, coal, nickel and cobalts, among others.
Earlier in his remarks, the chief executive officer, SROL, Segun Lawson appreciated the support and motivation received from the Federal Government which he believes is responsible for the success so far recorded.
Lawson said the company is not only running the commercial operation as they have made a lot of social impact on the communities around them. He reiterated that his company has fulfilled all the promises made in the CDA signed with the host communities and has gone ahead into CSR which includes, the building of markets, schools, construction of bridges, provision of scholarships, potable water, among others. A statement by the ministry’s director of press and public relations signed by Idowu Jokpeyibo, said Lawson highlighted the challenges faced by the company to include the issue of illegal mining in his domain as he appealed for the continuous support of the ministry and other government agencies to overcome such challenges, adding that plan is underway to expand exploration and production of gold to other states and diversify away from gold production.