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Segilola gold: Potential game changer in Nigeria’s mining field

With the ground breaking ceremonies for the construction of the Segilola Gold Mine done with, the Federal Government and mining stakeholders have unanimously passed a vote of confidence on the project, saying that it will boost mining sector’s contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Taiwo Hassan reports

Obviously, the Nigerian solid minerals sector is on the verge of a major boost. Having been relegated to the background for years, the emergence of Thor Explorations with Segilola gold mine project in Osun State is set to redefine and explore the huge potential in the country’s gold reserve.

Indications to this fact emerged in March during the ground breaking, which attracted eminent personalities to Iperindo where the multi-billion naira project has been sited.
The event, which had the representative of President Muhammadu Buhari, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arch. Olamilekan Adegbite, the Governor of Osun State, Adegboyega Oyetola and other eminent stakeholders in the Nigeria’s mining sector in attendance, is enough proof that Thor Explorations, owners and investors, is working in line with the present administration’s agenda to diversify the country’s economy from crude oil by focus on mining, agriculture and manufacturing.

The investment promoted by TSX-listed Thor Explorations is put at $78 million (N28.5 billion), a fund secured from pan-African development finance institution, the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) as financing package for the construction and ramp-up of the project in Nigeria.

Despite the state of the country’s economy, prospects of Nigeria attaining success in its mining sector remain bright as the gold project is expected improve leapfrogging the mining sector’s current 0.11 per cent GDP contribution to the economy to about five per cent by 2025 in line with the present administration’s economic revolution.

Segilola gold project as game changer
Speaking at the flagg-off in March, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arch. Olamilekan Adegbite, explained that the construction of the gold mining project was a clear manifestation that small scale mining activities could be developed into viable large-scale mining projects that will bring greater economic benefits to the country.
Adegbite commended the efforts of Segilola Resources Operating Limited, a subsidiary of TSX-listed Thor Explorations by describing the organisation as a pacesetter in the country’s mining industry.

The minister noted that the inauguration of the project would significantly transform the country’s mining sector of the economy in line with President Buhari’s agenda for aggressive development of the country’s non-oil sector including mining to boost Nigeria’s economic profile.

He said: “This is the start of a significant journey not just for Segiliola or Osun State, but, indeed, for the entire country. I believe the success of this is a big success for the Nigerian mining industry. We must get this right and all stakeholders must give their support to this project and make sure it is a success. If this project succeeds, Nigeria would have succeeded in mining. This is because hitherto, all mining activities have been at the small-scale level which cannot take us anywhere.

Similarly, the Governor of Osun State, Adegboyega Oyetola, represented by the Secretary to the Government of the State, Oluwole Oyebamiji, described the gold project as a stimulus for the economic transformation of Osun State.
He said: “Without doubt, the Segilola gold mine project signals the commencement of economic transformation of Osun State, which our administration promised.”
Governor Oyetola explained the state’s resolve to support Segilola gold project was a fulfillment of the government’s promise to hit the ground running in line with the Federal Government’s diversification agenda that is aimed at lifting the nation out of economic quagmire.

Stakeholders’ views
The Chief Executive Officer of Segilola Resources Operating Limited, Segun Lawson, described the laying of the first stone by the governor and the minister as the company’s most significant milestone in its development.
He said Thor Explorations acquired the Segilola project in August 2016, and since the acquisition, they have been developing the project through various stages of preliminary feasibility to the point of bankable feasibility.
According to him, developing the most advanced gold exploration project in Nigeria into a major mine, Segilola gold project, when completed, would be the epoch of achievement for Nigeria that has been working on making a case for being a potential mining destination.
Lawson noted that the production of the Segilola gold mine would ultimately boost the income government generates from the mining sector, which at the moment is poorly stated at 0.11 per cent.
The Head of Natural Resources at Africa Finance Corporation, which is backed by the CBN and other local banks, Osam Iyahem said that Nigeria had huge and untapped deposits of metals such as iron ore, gold, zinc, and lead but almost all extraction is done on a small-scale and manual basis.
He added that such subsistence players hardly pay any revenue to the government.
“The Segilola gold mine project, which is low-hanging fruit, would prove to the Nigerian government and the international financing community that mining can be a viable proposition in Nigeria.”
A director, Thor Explorations Limited, Kayode Aderinokun, while explaining Segilola gold mine as a game changer for Nigeria’s untapped gold riches, stated that it could not have come at a better time than now.
He explained that despite the uncertainties that becloud the mining industry in Nigeria, the company defied all the odds and went into gold mining activities.
“The coming of Segilola Gold Project is a litmus test for the industry. It is a demonstration that the industry that has been described as “very risky” can be ventured into and pave the way for attractive investment for other gold mines and mineral development projects.
“The success of Segilola will be a strong statement that seals a successful future for the gold sector in Nigeria.”
Aderinokun noted that the project was making positive statements to all stakeholders in the mining industry that mining can take central stage in the nation’s decision making process.
“Taking a page from the Segilola gold project, this is the time for the government, banks and financial institutions, investors, professionals and everyone who is passionate about the growth of the mining industry in Nigeria to intensify their efforts in developing mineral asset projects of strategic and National importance,” he added.
In his submission, a consultant at Ogunleye Resources and an expert in mining laws, Olajide Ogunleye, believes that for the nation to make great strides in the mining sector and realise revenue that are, hitherto, lost to illegal activities in the industry, Nigeria needs to find a suitable way to formalise the activities of the artisanal miners.
“Because the industry is under-tapped, do you know how much Nigeria is losing,” Ogunleye asked rhetorically.
Gbite Adeniji of Advisory and a key architect of the present Mining Act said as the first modern day gold mine in Nigeria, Segilola gold project had set the pace for gold mines in Nigeria.
“After all these years in mining sector, I’m very excited to witness the coming of modern gold mining coming in Nigeria” said Adeniji, who is an expert in mining law and part of Segilola gold mining project.
For Mrs. Teriba, the Segilola gold project is an opportunity for Nigeria to realise its potential in the gold mining sector of the economy.
She said: “Segilola has opened the doors for Nigeria to become a gold mining destination. We have long admired the tenacity of Segilola project and have closely followed its development over the last 10 years.”
“One successful major mine will attract mining investment for other projects and infrastructural development in the vicinity. They have been mentors and pillars in the gold sector and we owe a lot of our beginnings and resilience to them” she added.

Last line
With the coming on stream of Segilola gold project, Nigeria’s economy can count itself lucky to have been able to unraveled the hidden gold treasure that has been eluding the mining sector prospects for decades.

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