This meeting was held on the platform of the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission, as they analyzed the solid mineral deposits across the region and how best to explore them for the development of the region. The facilitator, Prof. Gbenga Okunlola, identified over 20 mineral deposits of commercial value which the region can explore, and they include gold, tar sand, glass sand, construction sand, clay, oil and gas, limestone, granite, phosphate, gypsum, bitumen and silimanite. Others are dimension stone, gemstone, marble, aquamarine, tantalic, feldspar, tourmaline, emerald, quartz, syenite and topaz.
In Okunlola’s presentation entitled: “Strategic Engagement Document for Repositioning the Solid Minerals Sector in South West Nigeria,” the professor of Geology at the University of Ibadan, urged the region to develop a model to explore the minerals with a view to re-positioning Southwest for self-sustenance. He also identified obstacles to the idea to include lack of funding, lack of clear-cut optimization model, misplacement and under-utilization of capacity and lack of regional cooperation.
However, Mr. Okunlola challenged the state governments to embrace regional model of intervention. He also emphasized that the move will translate to establishment of exploration and mining companies, which will help the state government enter into joint ventures with miners, thereby sharing the risks and achieving better results.
The expert urged states to look away from the clamor for amendment of the solid minerals law to enable states acquire licence, saying only regional cooperation and stability are needed in the sector to attract investors into the sector for regional development. The Director General of the Commission, Mr. Dipo Famakinwa, said the effort has become pertinent in view of the dwindling oil revenue.
We really don’t have a choice than to continue to see how we can move together to optimize the resources within our region. But the political will and the required coalition to move on and many of those things need to be put together, he said.
One of the objectives of the new National Policy on Solid Minerals is to ensure the orderly development of the mineral resources of the country, as there are tremendous opportunities for investments in the solid mineral sector. Prospecting licenses for investors (both local and foreign) to participate in the exploitation of the vast mineral resources in Nigeria has also been granted by the Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals to enable this new sector blossom.