Despite COVID-19 pandemic and the increasing climate change awareness by investors, 2020 has proven to be a landmark year for Nigeria, says Emma Priestley, CEO of Goldstone Resources and moderator of the London Investors Roundtable during the Nigeria Mining Week’s Digital Event.
The live discussion explored how the market views Nigeria now that the country’s mining and minerals sector is showing signs of recovery as authorities seek to responsibly diversify the economy.
She explained: “With Thor Explorations getting all of its permits, and the funding to develop their Segilola deposit into a mine. This is the first mine since the 1930s in Nigeria and it was in the 1930s that Nigeria was a very influential mining country with gold and tin exports. And much of the world does not realise that.”
She said she had witnessed “the positive efforts of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development for the last few years to set themselves apart from the legacy of the exploitation of oil which has tarnished the country to date.”
According to Priestley, supported by the World Bank, the ministry has committed to its roadmap and met milestones to improve the ease of doing business in Nigeria.
“What Nigeria needs is for the international mining community to start to recognise these important steps. Nigeria has set a new stage in mining by accommodating a good fiscal policy and they have a good stable government.
“Nigeria has a supportive foreign investment policy with 100% ownership and a policy to decrease the importation of minerals to become self sufficient with the barite and steel industry becoming most prominent.”
Iek Van Cruyningen, MD of merchant bankers Strand Hanson shared: ”We’re a regular visitor to Nigeria over the last decade. We know the country very well and are very comfortable on the oil and gas side. We’ve been upscaling our mining activities and plan to open an office in Abuja.“
According to Iek, to an investor and an adviser, “Nigeria is the last treasure trove in Africa for wealth and job creation in the Nigerian economy. We understand the risks of doing business in Nigeria and West Africa and are comfortable with it.
“The biggest hurdle we always have is explaining the situation on the ground vis a vis how investors and how foreign corporates actually view Nigeria. So for us that is a big hurdle to get over.”
Bert Koth, MD and partner of Denham Capital, said in terms of mining project finance, prospective investors will always first look at the overall market and “that has nothing to do with the country, really.”
Denham Capital are the owners of the Bisie Tin Project in eastern DRC and the Panda Hill Project which is a niobium mine in Tanzania.
He stated that currently, outside the gold market, “the mining financing environment is actually extremely distressed.”
“Over the last 12 months, the mining industry raised over $6-billion in equity, of that amount over two thirds went into gold – of that amount, only 25 per cent went into development and development includes everything, including de-risking, exploration, and the physical development.
“So you have quite a significant competition for capital.”
According to Koth the risks that mining companies and investors face are related more to the actual implementation than the location.
Later in the discussion Koth stated that “the structural reforms in Nigeria for the last few years are definitely going in the right direction. We would consider investing in the country.”
Kevin Pietersen, partner in law firm Hogan Lovells said “there is an appetite for new countries, new projects, particularly looking at the gold price” but that “Nigeria has to prove that it can enforce anti-corruption policies.”