“Unusual but impressive” best describes Tundun Taiwo’s venture into mining. For more than four years she has been the Principal Partner at Impresa Legal— a company that provides legal and business development solutions for mining companies. She also runs her own mining company, Impresa Mining, which she established after purchasing a gemstone field in 2015.
Her ambition is to be part of the development of policy formulation as Nigeria moves to expand its mining sector.
The 33-year-old talks about her journey into the mining space.
“My dream was always to be a corporate lawyer. I attended the Lagos Business School (LBS) Entrepreneurial Management Course (after studying law at the University of Lagos) to understand how businesses operate. Mining law was never the plan.”
Her course at LBS also contributed to her business advisory and consulting expertise, which was the primary focus of Impresa Legal at that time.
She recounts her experience of moving into this field. “We had a family friend who was actively involved in mining. I indicated some interest after hearing how much the sector could generate, but lacked key players. A few weeks later, my dad and I went to visit a mining site and I knew I had to be a part of it. I raised my own finances, tough as it was, to purchase a gemstone field and obtained a mining licence. Once I was a solid minerals entrepreneur, mining law-related transactions became a bigger part of my work at Impresa Legal.”
“I encountered challenges in the early stages. I discovered that the labourers I employed at that time were stealing from me, which made it difficult to break even. I had to enter into a technical partnership with an expert in the field and that helped a great deal, to curb this challenge”.
The country has not created an easy business climate for mining practitioners, she says. “In Nigeria, the industry is still developing and there are not enough precedents. This makes it tough when consulting for other companies but I keep myself informed of the mining sector laws.”
She wishes she had mentors in her chosen path. “Truthfully, I always wished I had more guidance in my career than I did.” Regardless, Taiwo is doing her own mentoring by encouraging and informing young lawyers, especially women, with questions about venturing into mining and its legal aspects.
“Typically, choosing a legal specialisation is driven by interest. You need to familiarise yourself with the mining sector’s activities, study and understand all relevant and existing laws. Understanding the workings of the regulatory bodies within the Ministry of Mines and steel development as well as the Chamber of Mines are key to the learning process.”
Taiwo often works with the Ministry as an expert consultant on projects and policy development, as there are limited experts in this field. This means shuttling between Lagos, Nigeria’s business centre, and Abuja, the capital and the hub of government relations. She is also regularly called on to make presentations on her work, and the impact of mining and steel development on the economy, at conferences around the world.
For her next phase, Taiwo is focused on two things - raising local and foreign investments for mining projects in Nigeria and enrolling as an MBA Candidate in a prestigious business school.
Free time for Taiwo involves acting in and watching stage plays.
“In Nigeria’s ongoing quest for the diversification of its economy, the potential gains from the mining industry cannot be over-emphasized. The sector is poised to be a prime income generator, away from oil, if sustained. Given the large mineral deposits in the country, Nigeria is, literally, sitting on a gold mine.”
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