THE NIGERIAN GEOLOGICAL SURVEY AGENCY:
Driving Nigeria’s Economic Diversification Agenda and Boosting our Nation’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
By Adewale Wilson
Can anything good come out of Nigeria? Well, for those pessimists who have been asking this question, this is for you!
Plans are afoot, if the Federal Government’s word is anything to go by, to establish a Geo Data Centre, which would enhance online access to appropriate geological reports and data.
According to the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite, during a virtual conference on sustainable mining in Nigeria, the Nigeria Geo Data Centre will be located at the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA), where it will boost research and investment decisions.
“We are currently establishing a Nigeria Geo Data Centre at the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency, to ease online access to correct geological reports and data for investment decisions and research,” said the minister.
Stressing the need for economic diversification, the minister added that only seven of the 44 different mineral types in Nigeria are currently being deployed. These are coal, iron ore, bitumen, gold, limestone, lead-zinc and barite.
Lending his voice to this critical need for economic diversification, Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, declared, “it’s time to revive Nigeria’s buried prosperity. it is time to revive the country’s mineral endowments which have been left untapped for decades. The mineral deposits, if properly managed, can ensure that no Nigerian is unemployed.”
Speaking at the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development’s maiden edition of the strategic engagement on sustainable mining with state governors and other critical stakeholders in Abuja, the Nigerian Vice President stressed that it is only synergy between state governors and host communities, that can revive the country’s mining sector
And so, the Vice President challenged local government authorities to work closely with the Ministry, through the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA),so as to maximize the mineral endowments in their lands and also develop cottage mines, to exploit the minerals identified in each local government, with the mindset of job creation.
“It is very delighting to note that available reports from the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA), confirms that Nigeria is endowed with over 44 mineral deposits, occurring in commercial quantities in over 500 locations across the 36 States and Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria.
“Accordingly, it can be reasonably inferred that every Local Government Area (LGA) of the country is endowed with one or more mineral resources that can be harnessed for the development of the area and the country at large.
“The value chain of these mineral resources remains largely untapped and as such they are not readily available for sustainable economic development of the country, more so, that the mining industry is dominated by over 90 per cent artisanal operators.
“It was on the aforesaid premise, that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration decided to anchor its diversification agenda on two key sectors, mining and agriculture,” Osinbajo posited.
On this note, the Nigerian VP suggested that the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development should lead the efforts for improved communication and information sharing among the tiers of government, especially with regards to the provisions of the Minerals & Mining Act, 2007 and its ancillary regulations of 2011.
In reaction, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, remarked that the ministry was building two gold refineries in the country to increase the value of gold for the benefit of stakeholders.
Adegbite added that gold miners would be linked to formal markets, through licensed precious metal buying Centers.
“Through the ongoing Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Initiative (PAGMI), we are organizing, formalizing, and equipping artisanal and small gold miners in Kaduna, Kebbi, Osun, Niger, Ebonyi, Sokoto, Gombe, and Ekiti.
“Miners of gold and other metals would be linked to formal markets, through licensed precious metals buying centers. One of such initiatives is the recently launched Dukia-Heritage Bank buying Centre.
“Two gold refineries, Kian Smith and Dukia Gold and Precious Metals Refining Company Limited, are currently being built to increase the value of gold in the country for the benefit of all stakeholders.” The Minister concluded.
Evaluating the progress reports, the Minister declared that Nigeria’s success stories in the area of solid minerals development, are now attracting more investors locally and globally. One of such investors is the Aurelia Mining Company of UK.
Addressing a delegation led by the Director of Aurelia Mining Company Limited, United Kingdom, Julian Hammond, on a courtesy visit, Adegbite said “But the whole essence is to go out there and to convince more investors to come to Nigeria and do mining”.
“The government is spending so much money, and we have a project called the National Integrated Mineral Exploration Project, NIMEP, the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency, NGSA, is doing exploration, Nigeria’s gold is one of them, and apart from data, we took out before the pandemic started in 2020. I was in South Africa, London, Toronto, and of course with all these we are still able to convince investors; look Nigeria is a place to come to.”
He further informed his guests “Nigeria was known for solid minerals before the discovery of oil and gas. We have the minerals and this is the time to develop them and as an encouragement, this is the right thing to come into Nigeria and put up this project”.
In his address, leader of the delegation, Julian Hammond, said: “Nigeria is becoming a powerhouse in gold production in Western Africa. We also see Nigeria becoming the powerhouse in Western Africa. I also see him aspiring to diversify away from oil and gas and solid minerals is the preferred way of diversifying”.
“I believe Aurelia Mining Company Limited is such a company with its major partner here, who is a Nigerian based in the UK and he is come back to do business in his home country, because he sees the potential of this country. We see a lot of potential in gold exploration.”
“We have been received with open arms and confidence to go back to the United Kingdom and I will be going to Canada soon and talk to our investors, that where to invest in this industry in West Africa is in Nigeria”, Hammond concluded.
Meanwhile, Hammond’s major partner, Director, Natural Resources Advisors, Wole Modupe Fagbulu, added, “We were in London promoting Nigeria as a mineral base. Investors like to hear that but at the same time there is supposed to be a connection between investors and countries, and the Minister has established that.
“I have met with him and he has explained what they are doing and with that, I have been able to convince my partner here. This is the right place to be. As a Nigerian, if I can do this in other countries why can’t i do the same in my country?”
With these developments, the stage is now set for the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA), to take the center stage and lead the Nigerian economic diversification revolution via solid minerals exploration and mining. The weighty responsibility of getting Nigeria out of the woods, now lies on the young shoulders of the NGSA.
But, like the saying goes, “to whom much is given, much is expected”. Hence the question, “is the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA) really prepared to lead this match to Nigeria’s economic utopia?
To answer this million-dollar-question, a CSONewswatch crew led by Myke Ngbe, paid a curtesy call on the Director General of the Agency, Dr. Abdulrazaq A. Garba, FGS FNMGS, for an on-the-spot- assessment of the state of preparedness of the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA), for the onerous task ahead.
At first glance Dr Garba immediately comes across as a man of purpose and vision. He bares his mind on the state of affairs, when put on the spot. Hear him;
“Nigeria is ripe for economic diversification, having depended on crude oil for far too long, at the expense of other valuable natural resources embedded in our fertile lands. Solid minerals provide a viable alternative to crude oil and Nigeria’s lands abound in solid minerals. The Nigerian Geological Survey Agency is here to analyze and provide data about the diverse mineral deposits in our dear nation and how we can become wealthy and gainfully employed, by cashing in on this hugely unexploited wealth deposits in our country”.
When asked about the preparedness of the agency for the work of creating a platform for Nigerians to access and harness the Mineral deposits in the land, the University of Ilorin-trained Doctor in Mineral exploration, who is a strong research professional with vast experience in the mining and metals industry and also skilled in AutoCAD, Business Planning and Management, Dr, Garba, has this to say, “the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency is equipped with the facilities and manpower to provide investors with relevant data as regards the abundant mineral deposits in Nigeria. We have been working tirelessly behind-the-scenes, gathering actionable data as you can see in our museum. The Agency is also equipped with state-of-the-art Research Centers, to ensure adequate survey and profiling of data, so as to guarantee productive investment decisions for investors”.
A tour of the NGSA facilities and organization reveals the Agency has five (5) Technical Departments and four (4) Research Centers, that are engaged in diverse data gathering and analysis.
THE NGSA DEPARTMENTS
Regional Geology Department
The Regional Department’s main duty is to generate baseline data for value chain activities especially mineral exploration, hydrogeology, engineering, agriculture, geo-hazard and marine geology.
Economic Geology Department
The function of this Department is to delineate zones of mineralization, evaluate strategic minerals and promote products for exploitation to spur the needed industrialization.
This Department is tasked with the production of surface and sub-surface geological information and knowledge on mineral deposits, using state-of-the-art geophysical equipment.
Hydrogeology and Engineering Geology Department
This Department is tasked with providing baseline geoscience information for land use planning, health, infrastructure development, geo-hazards and sound environmental management.
(A) Leachate sampling at Kwargwam dumpsite in Daura (b) Sampling of crude oil contamination in a creek in Bayelsa (C)Logging of overburden in Abeokuta
This Department is tasked with the development of ICT strategy for geosciences planning for the Agency.Geoscience Planning and ICT Department
THE NGSA RESEARCH CENTERS
National Geosciences Research Laboratory (NGRL)
The National Geosciences Research Laboratories (NGRL), is located in Kaduna as one of the Research Centres of the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA),
with state-of-the-art equipment and highly trained personnel, the Centre conducts analytical tests on rocks, ore minerals, soils, sediments, sludges, water, as well as agricultural and metallurgical materials, for the geologic and environmental research communities. These services to a large extent have been providing credible support to the geosciences and mining communities.
In addition to existing analytical machines such as the Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer (AAS), X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) machines, etc., the NGSA recently has Fire Assay equipment and Carbon/Sulphur Analyzer, with a brand-new laboratory built to house the Fire Assay machine, which is the first in Nigeria and the third in West Africa. The Fire Assay equipment is expected to revolutionize the mining sector especially in the analysis silver, copper, lead and gold in gold ores. Freighting of samples overseas for analysis will reduce and will lead to an increase in the IGR of the Agency.
The installed Carbon/Sulphur Analyzer will be used for the quantification of carbon and sulphur content in organic and inorganic substances and for elemental analysis of carbon and sulphur in coal and other biofuels. This also has the potential to increase the IGR of the Agency.
National Geosciences Information Centre (NGIC)
This is a center under the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA), established as a one-stop repository and dissemination center of geosciences information. The NGIC is charged with the responsibility of documenting, archiving and disseminating geosciences information in the country, to potential investors, a broad spectrum of researchers and the general public.
The center is also meant to encourage the deposit of datasets by other organization.
A key part of this Research Center is the Geological Museum, which parades some of the nation’s mineral specimens.
At a glance, here’s how the NGSA museum looks like;
National Geohazards Monitoring Centre (NGMC)
After the NGIC our tour leads to the NGMS, which is a Centre responsible for research into natural hazards the likes of landslides, mudslides, erosions and volcanic activities in the country.
In collaboration with other stakeholders, this Center has embarked on studies to evaluate the impacts of hazardous natural phenomena and predict their effects on human infrastructure and ecosystem. It also recommends various mitigation plans and carry out public enlightenment, to reduce the effects of such natural hazards.
National Centre for Marine Geosciences (NCMG)
The National Centre for marine Geosciences located in Yenagoa, has the mandate to collect and collate geoscientific data and information, from Nigeria’s coastal and offshore environments, central to reconstruction of their geological evolution, mineral resources discoveries and exploitation, geohazard mitigation, and sustainable development.
Accordingly, the Centre creates a data bank and body of knowledge, where concerns and challenges of investors, investigators and all other stakeholders interested in geo-scientific evolution, exploitation, development, vulnerability and management of Nigeria’s coastal and offshore environments are creditably catered for.
Wondering why Nigerians in particular and investors in general, have not yet maximized the services of the NGSA, in order to cash in on the low-hanging-fruits imminent in solid mineral, the mineral exploration researcher and analyst was quick to admit that, more needs to be done in order to sensitize investors about the tools at the disposal of the NGSA.
“Information is the key” he says. “when prospective investors don’t know about one’s services, there is little that can be done. But as we have been doing lately, we shall continue to avail the public with valuable and actionable investment data, hoping that they will take advantage of such. It is on this note that we are particularly elated about the proposed establishment of the Nigeria Geo Data Center, which will make our research and analysis available in the public domain, for investors to access important solid minerals information readily” he concluded.
Indeed, these are interesting times for Nigeria. Whether or not these laudable initiatives will see the light of day, remains to be seen in the coming days. But, with the palpable optimism of Dr. Garba and the momentum at NGSA, we have reasons to hope that better days are just ahead for Nigerians, as the much-desired economic diversification may just be upon us sooner than later, courtesy of the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency’s critical role in solid mineral exploration.