The reinvigoration of Nigeria’s mining sector, alongside global industry commitment to action on climate change and Net Zero goals, will likely see new green mining provisions passed in Nigeria in 2024 as the review of the sector’s primary law was not completed due to the recent change in government, says Samuel Olawepo of Famsville Solicitors.
“Nigeria is a country blessed with mining resources across more than 500 locations, but the local industry suffered some hits following the discovery of oil in 1956 and the civil war in the 1960s,” Olawepo shared. “Recently there have been efforts by the federal government to resuscitate the mining industry as part of a general economic diversification agenda.”
In 2016, Nigeria’s government rolled out its plans for the transformation of the mining sector – the Roadmap for the Growth and Development of the Nigerian Mining Industry – to grow the local industry’s contribution to GDP to over 10% by 2026. Since then, many initiatives have been developed to reinvigorate the sector, which has tripled in revenue, upgraded technology, and created employment opportunities, Olawepo said.
“Mining is now beginning to take its place again as a significant contributor to Nigeria’s economy,” commented Olawepo, who practises out of the Lagos office of Famsville, a fast-growing Nigerian commercial firm with pan-African reach. “With all nations now looking towards energy transition, there’s been more focus on green mining, and sourcing and mining new minerals to achieve green, clean transitions in Nigeria, in Africa, and the world over.”
Olawepo expects to see Nigeria increase its mining and processing of lithium for batteries, of rare earth minerals for tech gadgets, of copper for transmission lines, and steel production for wind turbines in meeting global renewable energy needs. Companies currently mining coal will, long term and maybe even in the near future, have to stop because of the propensity for carbon emissions, he added.
However, Olawepo pointed out that much of this leaning towards green mining is currently based on industry practice and response to global trends in relation to ESG and climate change, rather than Nigeria’s own regulatory framework for its mining industry, which needs updating.
While ESG and related considerations are specifically included in some Nigerian laws, including the Climate Change Act and harmful waste legislation, and corporate law principles about sustainability, their Minerals and Mining Act dates from 2007. “A whole lot more can be done,” Olawepo noted. “Our primary mining law is 16 years old and doesn’t exactly meet up with the new standards of mining and also ESG considerations in the sector.” He expects that to change next year, with modern laws being introduced for the industry.
“For Africa, and Nigeria in particular, we need to reposition ourselves to take full benefit of the opportunities that climate change is provoking,” Olawepo said. While the country and continent may face challenges – including regulatory frameworks, technical expertise, and financing – there are huge opportunities in terms of the demand for the minerals being mined, renewable power being generated onsite, and technology to create cleaner mining processes.
With internationally trained ESG experts, Famsville advises clients on ESG reporting and planning, and regulatory compliance, and runs training sessions for boards and employees. Olawepo and his colleagues stand ready to help clients navigate the brave new world of green mining in Nigeria and across the continent.
To join Africa Legal's mailing list please click here