Nigeria to offer investors 75% stake in proposed solid minerals firm

Dele Alake, Nigeria's Minister of Solid Minerals

Nigeria plans to offer investors at least a 75% stake in a proposed solid minerals corporation, a minister said on Tuesday, as lawmakers draft legislation to create the new state-backed firm to wean the West African country from its reliance on oil.

Africa’s top energy producer has struggled to extract value from its vast mineral resources due to poor incentives and neglect. The underdeveloped mining sector contributes less than 1% of the country’s gross domestic product.

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The government will hold no more than a 25% stake in the proposed Nigerian Solid Minerals Corp, leaving the rest to private investors and the public, Solid Minerals Minister Dele Alake said at a conference in the capital Abuja.

Lawmakers are considering folding moribund state-owned miners, the National Iron-Ore Company and Bitumen Concessioning Programme, into the new corporation and creating a special mines police force to tackle rampant illegal mining, Alake said.

The corporation will help attract investments to extract gold, coal, iron-ore, bitumen, lead, baryte and lead, he said in September when the plan was first made public.

At least 499 licences have been issued to companies and individuals to buy and sell minerals, Alake said. Applications for lithium topped the list at 146, followed by gold at 91, he added.

The government is trying to regulate artisanal miners who dominate the sector by grouping them into cooperatives to bid for licenses, Alake said. So far, 2,329 of them have been registered into cooperatives.