As the clamour for the diversification of the nation’s economy peaks, the solid minerals sector, through international investments, has begun to record monumental results as investors begin to show serious commitment towards doing business with the sector.
Australia and Canada have shown the most interest in investing in the nation’s solid minerals sector.This is evident not only in their words but in the huge financial commitments that have been made in several areas of solid minerals development.
The Australian High Commissioner, Jonathan Richardson, had during the launch of the World Bank-assisted programme on Nigeria’s mining sector said: “We believe that we have something to offer because of our own experience in developing Australia’s minerals sector over a period of some 150 years, since the gold rush in New South Wales and Victoria of the 1850s and 60s played a pivotal role in opening up the Australian continent to economic development.
“Australia, like Canada and the African continent, is endowed with an abundant supply of mineral resources, much of which can sustain current rates of mine production for many decades. Australia is the world’s leading producer of bauxite and alumina and mineral sands, the second largest producer of gold, iron ore, manganese ore, lead and zinc, the third largest producer of uranium, and the fourth largest of silver, nickel and black coal,” he said.
The high commissioner maintained that his country had in recent years, been exporting the technical, commercial, and administrative expertise gained over that the period to all corners of the globe, adding that Australian mining companies were active in over 100 countries worldwide, including in nearly 40 countries in Africa, “where mining is now at the heart of our commercial relationship.”
Already, an Australia-based Iron Ore Exploration and Development Company, Kogi Iron Limited (KIL) has said in bringing all drilling, magnetic and mapping together, they were expecting to build on 1.5-2bt target. This is even as it revealed that results from the programme carried out by the company include hits of 11m at 34.5 per cent iron and 6m at 39.2 per cent iron in the overlying laterite and 20m at 41.5 per cent iron and 11m at 52.2 per cent iron in the underlying oolite.
In a statement and presentation made at the African Down Under Conference which held in Australia recently, KIL said the drilling confirmed the extensive nature of the shallow flat lying channel iron mineralisation within Agbaja with the strike extending more than 15km and 2km to the South and West respectively.
Its managing director, Iggy Tan, revealed that Kogi State through the efforts of the company was at the forefront of becoming the nation’s significant resource project in iron ore development, saying the nation’s endowment in mineral resources was awesome.
Kogi Iron Limited, an ASX listed company is focused on being an African iron ore producer through development of its 100 per cent owned Agbaja Iron Ore Project located in Kogi State, aimed at discovering and establishing significant iron ore resource and has the advantage of doing business in other parts of the nation.
With their iron ore described as the best in over ten decades with various exploits in Aztec, Portman and Territory Resources among others, the board is said to be involved in seven resource start-ups and capital raising. The trio of Chairman Ian Bursto , a legend in Iron ore and mining industry, managing director, Iggy Tan and country director, Kevin Joseph, who has spent 24 years in Africa, is said to account for nearly N1 billion in transactions during their time and have been described as a strong board with credentials to develop the project and capital raising experience.
According to one of the non executive directors, Joe Ariti, the finds should lead to an expansion of the 1.5 2bt exploration target already in place for the project. “They were all stepped out holes and they have identified mineralisation up to 18km along strike. The existing resources are just 20 per cent of the geophysical anomaly and we got 488mt out of that,” he said.
He however warned that shareholders should not expect to see the company spending the next 10 years trying to build a JORC-compliant resources to match the target as that would be a waste of their money, adding that while size may not matter, Kogi infrastructural solutions do matter
Central West Africa has been one of the hottest destinations for Iron Ore exploration in the past five years, but lack of infrastructure has meant few projects.
This is not a good record as Nigeria which is blessed with over 44 minerals across the nation is severely challenged by lack of infrastructure which hinders the transportation and movement of mining produce from one community to another.
Ariti recalled that as head of African Iron, he knew that proximity of Mayoko project in Republic of Congo to the project would result in its success owing to its closeness to existing and accessible rail and port infrastructure.
Their latest venture, the Kogi Iron Limited is said to bear similar hallmarks which made those companies successful. Corporate targets including a 23-hole RC programmeconfirmed iron ore mineralisation extended beyond the existing 488 metric tonnes at 43 per cent resource defined nearly a year earlier.
The KIL as part of its community partnership said it had established a land consent agreement, established good community partnership with 11 local communities, enjoyed the personal support of the Massi of Agbaja, had employed several community youths and was involved in the local procurement of goods and services among various other community development projects.
Director-General of the NSRMEA, Alex Ohikere, earlier had said there was a renewed focus on iron ore investigation due to the increasing global demand and the need to have a strong raw materials base for the nation’s iron and steel industry.
He said they had identified three broad classes of iron ore in Nigeria which include the medium grade banded iron ore at a total reserve of over 465 million tonnes, the oolothic Iron ore at a reserve exceeding 2 billion tonnes and the high grade iron ore which was yet to be quantified.
Ohikere said the agency was facing the challenges of low efficiency of drilling rigs, regular breakdown and high cost of maintenance of equipment, while commending the efforts of government on the approval to fund two core drilling rigs and one low bed, one of which was recently supplied.