How Small Mining Businessmen are Rebuilding Nigeria: Industrial Explosion in Africa’s Most Populous Country

Local-mining-operation-in-Nigerias-north-central-region-Niger-state. Photocredit:

Between the early 1900s to 1960s, mineral mining was a promising and expanding venture deeply embedded in the Nigerian people. For example, coal mines in south east Nigeria produced millions of dollars in revenue. It was Nigeria’s material of choice for running trains and power plants in the 1950s.

Then you have tin city in Nigeria’s north central region called Jos. It was one of Africa’s largest tin mining operation. It is estimated that over 70,000 African and European workers braved the blistering heat to harvest tin from Jos mines in the 1960s. Nigeria was a leading exporter of tin in the world.

Gold mining reached industrial pace in the 1940s. Iron ore gathered steam in the 1970s and then government went on vacation. But small scale mining continued to thrive for decades across Nigeria’s northern and southern regions.

When ordinary people realized that the country’s enormous solid mineral wealth remained untapped and government had turned to crude oil only, Nigerians decided to take matters into their own hand. This is one of the untold economic stories.

It is on these local, rag-tag miners hang the hopes of a country in desperate need of enduring commonwealth.

In 2015, when the fall in crude oil prices was beginning to hit Nigeria, there was this story of Abdullahi Adamu popularly known as Dan-China, an expert in the mining industry captured in one of Nigeria’s national newsprint, Leadership.

He gave intimate hint where Nigeria’s mining industry is headed. “When we, the younger ones, started prospecting by ourselves, we saw that there are a lot of unknown minerals that were not tapped.’


“Nigeria has the largest deposit of lead and iron ore in the whole of Africa; in fact, not just Africa but the entire world. No country can challenge us in terms of the quantity and quality capacity of zinc and lead in the country which also has timber and other things. We have these minerals in large quantities including silver.”

Though lamenting and at the same time urging government response, Abdullahi uniquely captured the mood sweeping Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria. Everyone realizes that Nigeria is sitting on a enormous treasure chest.

And many are not waiting for a national liberator.

They understand creative thinkers, entrepreneurs and dedicated tribesmen is all Nigeria has got to turn its fortune around. In time, wise elected officials will get the message. Across Nigeria, many small scale mining enterprises are springing up.

Nigeria’s small scale mining industry’s export is in hundreds of millions of dollars every year. It could well be over a billion dollar. This is the low tech mineral economy that drives Africa’s largest economy. It is not formally documented. But there is more.

When you visit Asia’s mineral commodity trading centers you find representatives of Nigeria’s mineral-exporting-companies everywhere. But Nigeria’s elected government have little tax revenue to show for the booming export trade. Who really cares about the risky crude oil business these days?


Can-Nigeria-set-up-a-mineral-trading-floor-across-36-states? Photocredit:

This is because Nigeria has yet to establish a functional mineral commodity trading center. Mineral commodity market help protect the rights and benefits of miners, sellers, buyers, middlemen, general public, and the government.

Nigeria’s businessmen are suppliers of minerals like tin, Columbite, kaolin (Raw), zircon sand, talc, lead, zinc, quartz, silica, iron ore, manganese ore, chrome ore, lithium ore, beryl ore, gem stones, copper, wolframite, silver and of course gold around the world.

But you don’t get to see mineral export affecting Nigeria’s GDP bottom-line. They may account for more than the 3 percent GDP attributed to Nigeria’s mining industry. A modern mineral trading platform in Nigeria, Africa’s largest country, will change the continent’s economic prospects dramatically.

This is one of the next big story.

The local presence of mineral commodity market may begin with at least 108 trading warehouses in Nigeria’s regional senatorial zones including the Federal Capital Territory. The trading floors across Nigeria should handled thousands of spot contracts in such commodities as gold, silver, iron ore, columbite, other industrial metals, gemstones and diamond.

Nigeria can establish mineral trading floor that mirrors agric commodity market as seen in East Africa. This is a worker in Ethiopia Commodity Exchange’s warehouse, where Ethiopian products awaits exportation  Photocredit:

It will inspire small scale miners into trading membership. It will give rise to economic boom like never before.

Trading floor should have registered clients, whom small scale miners should trade through. Mining Cooperatives and Associations can represent millions smallholder miners on the mineral trading floor.

In other words, if a village miner dig out 1000 kilogram of gold from his village mining site, he should be able find the nearest trading location in his state capital. His gold is weighed and he is be paid in international market price of gold.

This gives him equal shares to his country’s natural wealth. The race is on.

Times are changing.

Modern infrastructure will begin to come to surface across Nigeria’s northern and southern regions. Mining venture provides the ingredient for economic branches like industrial plant and high tech enterprises. You are looking at a country that feed the world.

Big time manufacturing activities are fueled by raw materials obtained from mining enterprises. Coal is an important material in the manufacture of cement and steel. Columbite is the key ingredient for making industrial capacitors and processors.

Imagine what mineral mining can do for Nigeria in creating jobs, exports, economic competitiveness. poverty eradication and social cohesion.




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